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Michigan Men Charged in Illegal Trade of Black Bears and Bear Parts

Suspects were arrested after a DNR undercover operation officials say may have involved the international black market for bear parts, which are used for medicinal purposes in some areas of the world.

Two men believed to be supplying black bears and bear parts to the black market were arrested by Michigan Department of National Resources officials. (Photo: Michigan DNR)
Two men believed to be supplying black bears and bear parts to the black market were arrested by Michigan Department of National Resources officials. (Photo: Michigan DNR)

Two Michigan men have been arrested for trading in black bears in violation of Michigan law.

The men, both from Midland, were arrested on charges of illegal buying of the bears and bear parts after an undercover investigation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division’s Special Investigation Unit.

Their names have not been released pending arraignment in 75th  District Court in Midland County. Each of the seven counts against the defendants carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail plus $1,500 in reimbursement per animal that was illegally bought.

The DNR said in a news release that a conservation officer assigned to the Bay City District received information that one of the men was contacting hunters and soliciting the purchase of black bear parts. An undercover operation was set up, and a number of transactions involving the sale of black bears and black bear parts were conducted with the suspects.

“Individuals soliciting for the purchase of black bear parts creates a market for the illegal parts and provides a financial incentive for poachers to take the animals during closed seasons, in excess of established limits, and by unlawful methods,” Detective Lt. Jason Haines, supervisor of the DNR’s Special Investigation Unit, said.

DNR officials also said the suspects may have been involved in the international black market for black bear parts. In Asia, for example, black bear parts are used for medicinal purposes.

DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler said the Special Investigations Unit plays an important role in investigating and arresting major violators and its cases often include interstate and international violations.

“The unit’s role in the Law Enforcement Division is to use undercover investigations, the latest in technology and forensics to apprehend poachers and others who are illegally commercializing fish and game in our state,” Hagler said. “The unit works with our conservation officers to build strong cases and to protect our natural resources.”

Anyone with information of the illegal commercialization of any Michigan wildlife or fish or any natural resources violations are encouraged to call the Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292-7800.

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