By ROBERT WILSON, [email protected]
April 29, 2006
MARYVILLE - Calling it "a serious issue," a Blount County judge
sentenced David Mashburn Friday evening on charges of hunting bear in a
Mashburn's is one of more than a dozen cases stemming from a
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency operation last fall in which
officers staked out an area where bear bait had been legally put out but
not removed 10 days before bear hunting season started, as state law
Three other defendants pleaded guilty to similar charges Friday in
General Sessions Judge David Duggan's court and 11 more had their cases
continued until June 30.
Mashburn leased the land off U.S. Highway 129 near Tallasee where the
arrests were made.
Defense lawyer Charles Currier said Mashburn did not believe he had
hunted over a baited area because the bait container, a barrel suspended
from a tree about 3 1/2 feet off the ground and filled with powdered
chocolate and M&Ms, had already been virtually emptied by the bears
prior to the 10-day limit preceding the hunting season.
But testimony by Doug McKenzie, a Monroe County-based TWRA officer,
said a considerable amount of the bait remained in the barrel and on the
ground around it even on opening day, Sept. 26, 2005.
Mashburn was sentenced to a suspended six-month jail term, a $500
fine, loss of his hunting, trapping and fishing privileges for two
years, forfeiture of his bear-hunting weapon and a compulsory hunter
Duggan said he was trying to be consistent in his sentencing in such
cases, but also said that the state "relies on its hunters and fishermen
Testimony indicated TWRA personnel were already in place near the
bait barrels when bear season began a half-hour before dawn that rainy
September morning, and they seized the hunters as they arrived on the
Mashburn is said to have driven an all-terrain vehicle past two
baited barrels before taking off through the forest in pursuit of a
Mashburn said he was as much as two miles away from the barrels when
the order came across a two-way radio confiscated from one of the other
hunters to surrender. McKenzie acknowledged that Mashburn willingly
complied, but he also testified that bears range wide in the wilderness
and that they may travel miles in search of food.
Duggan said the Tennessee law on hunting over baited ground is
narrowly drawn and based his decision on a strict reading of the
Copyright 2006, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.