Mississippi black bear poacher guilty – began serving jail time in January 2009

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Reports

Atlanta, Ga. — While Darryl Eubanks of Lucedale, Miss., was deer
hunting in 2007, he killed a Mississippi black bear, a species
listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and
protected by the State of Mississippi as a rare and threatened
animal.

On Dec. 22, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett,
Southern District, Hattiesburg Federal District Court, sentenced
Eubanks to 30 days in jail, a $5,000 fine, and $10,000 restitution
payable to the Bear Education and Restoration Group of Mississippi.
In addition, Eubanks is prohibited from hunting during one year of
supervised release probation. He will also pay a $50 special
assessment fee and perform 50 hours of community service at a
wildlife refuge. Eubanks began serving his jail time on Jan. 6,
2009.

“Anyone involved in the illegal killing of Mississippi black
bears, protected by the Endangered Species Act, will be vigorously
pursued by state and federal agents,” said Robert T. Oliveri,
resident agent in charge with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service.

In January 2008, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife,
Fisheries and Parks and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service learned
that a black bear carcass was found in south Mississippi and
started a joint investigation.

After conducting numerous interviews, investigators learned that
Eubanks shot and killed a Mississippi Black Bear in 2007, then cut
the paw off the bear and showed it to several people. Later,
Eubanks loaded the bear remains in a trailer and dumped it in the
woods.

Although he later denied any knowledge of his role in killing
the Mississippi black bear, evidence was presented to a federal
grand jury. On May 7, 2008, Eubanks was indicted by the federal
grand jury on four counts. He was charged with killing the black
bear in violation of the Endangered Species Act, transporting the
black bear in violation of the Lacey Act, giving a false statement
to federal agents in connection to the investigation, and
obstruction of justice for tampering with a material witness to a
federal investigation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special
Agents and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks
conservation officers later arrested Eubanks.

On Oct. 8, 2008, Eubanks appeared before United States District
Judge Keith Starrett, in Hattiesburg, Miss., and pled guilty.
Eubanks agreed to plead guilty to a violation of the Endangered
Species Act for killing the Black Bear, and a Lacey Act misdemeanor
charge, and was sentenced on Dec. 22, 2008. As part of the plea
agreement, the government moved to dismiss the charge of giving a
false statement to a federal agent, and the charge of obstruction
of justice for tampering with a material witness.

In 1932, black bears were given statewide protection in
Mississippi because there were less than twelve black bears
remaining in the state. In 1974, the black bear was included on the
Mississippi’s first list of rare and threatened animals. In 1992,
the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared the
Mississippi black bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species
Act.

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