Monterey man pleads guilty in Louisiana Black Bear killing

Published 12:12 am Friday, April 4, 2014

VIDALIA — A Monterey man plead guilty Thursday for killing a 14-year-old, female Louisiana Black Bear, removing the bear’s collar and burning the bear’s body.

Duell Moreland, 24, of Monterey, turned himself into the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office in November after Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents got an arrest warrant for his role in the illegal killing of the bear.

Agents began the investigation after receiving a mortality signal from a radio collared black bear that was part of the state’s Black Bear Program. A mortality signal is sent after a certain amount of inactivity.

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Agents said at the time of the investigation, they found the collar and a burn pile containing bear parts near a hunting camp in Wildsville. The agents also noticed an abandoned pickup truck on the property that they later found belonged to Moreland.

Brad Burget, District Attorney for the Seventh Judicial District, said his office was prepared to begin a trial against Moreland Thursday morning, but Moreland entered his plea before Burget presented his opening statement.

Burget said the investigation of the case led his office to uncover Moreland shot the bear with a crossbow near a camp in Wildsville. The bear’s collar was cut with a butcher knife sometime before or after the animal was dragged through the woods where Moreland eventually set up a pile of wood and covered the bear with gasoline before setting the animal’s body on fire.

Judge Kathy Johnson sentenced Moreland to 60 days in the parish prison, two years probation, a $950 fine as well as a $10,000 civil restitution fee Moreland will pay to the state’s Black Bear Program.

The punishment for a person hunting or taking deer or bear in the closed season also includes revoking that person’s hunting license for the period for which it was issued or a certain amount of time left to the judge’s discretion.

“Mr. Moreland had a lifetime hunting license, which meant if he got the full penalty, he would have had a lifetime hunting ban,” Burget said. “I was hoping for a lifetime ban and the maximum jail time, which is 120 days.”

Johnson revoked Moreland’s hunting license for five years.

The Louisiana Black Bear was federally listed as a threatened species in 1992.