Law Enforcement and Wildlife Division Staff resolved 10 years of responses to unusual bear calls. The calls have been coming from a small area of Warren County, VA. On November 7, 2018, they secured the successful conviction of a local man violating the bear no-feeding law.
Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) were able to get a search warrant for the property after reviewing the evidence concerning the illegal feeding. The Warren Co. man had a privacy fence built to block the view from the road which had hindered law enforcement efforts for many years. The man told DGIF staff that he had been spending over $10,000 annually on food for the bears in order to keep them safe from poachers and help the “sick and injured” ones.
For a decade, a Warren County resident had been purposely feeding, and thereby conditioning, bears to human food sources on his property. The resulting food-conditioned bears caused thousands of dollars of property damage to the surrounding homes resulting in numerous visits by CPOs and the District Biologist; as well as bear trapping and removal efforts.
Surrounding neighbors had been reporting vehicle and home damage, bears looking in windows, bears that stayed around the homes, and injuries to pets. Additionally, bears with visible symptoms of sarcoptic mange (contagious condition caused by mites) were detected on the property which is very close to an area that had a mange outbreak earlier in 2018.
Three CPOs and the Black Bear Project Leader attended the day in court, which was prosecuted by the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney for Warren County. The man was convicted of a Class 3 Misdemeanor; the highest charge permitted by law, and was ordered to pay a $500 fine.