Guilty plea in bear bait and hunting case

4:02 pm July 25th, 2012

An Eatonville man has pleaded guilty to charges of using bait to illegally hunt bears in Okanogan County.

James Erickson, 52, was sentenced to 180 days in jail. All but six days of the jail time were suspended, but he also was ordered by an Okanogan County District Court judge to pay $6,000 in civil penalties to the state Fish and Wildlife Department and $6,668 in court fines and fees.

Authorities said Erickson baited black bears with food and bacon grease to lure and shoot them near a cabin he owns in the Winthrop area. State law prohibits the use of bait in hunting bears.

In addition to hunting unlawfully, Erickson’s use of bait reduced the animals’ fear of humans, which increased the risk to people hiking and biking in recreation wilderness areas, according to Fish and Wildlife officials.

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