September 19, 2017

From Stephanie Kim,

A protest is being planned for outside the courthouse in Norwalk, where two men will appear Sept. 28 to face charges they illegally killed two young bears in Wilton.

Marguerite O’Connor, of Wilton, who calls herself a bear hobbyist, contacted the Norwalk mayor’s office to make sure a protest permit could be expedited in time for the hearing at state Superior Court in Norwalk.

“This has hit home really close to everyone’s heart, not only in town but
nationally,” said O’Connor, who travels the country to watch bears in Yellowstone National Park, Alaska and elsewhere. “It’s a travesty for sure.”

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection received an anonymous tip Saturday afternoon that an archery hunter had shot and killed the two black bears on private property in the area of Indian Rock Place, which is just west of Route 7, south of Georgetown.

Upon arrival, officers from DEEP’s Environmental Conservation Police said they found Antonio Lio, 28, of Wilton, carrying a bear skin, head and paws in his backpack. Daniel Moran, 33, of Norwalk, was with him.

The DEEP said Lio told officers he shot one bear as it was walking under his tree stand, and he shot and killed the other bear that approached him while he was checking on the first one.

The men skinned the first bear for a trophy mount and cut off its head and paws, the DEEP said. The bears were yearlings, under 2 years old.

“It’s a pretty unusual case,” said DEEP Director of Communications Dennis Schain, who has been with the department for about 12 years. “From time to time, you know, a bear being aggressive on somebody’s property, we’ve had property owners shoot a bear (with a gun). From time to time, we’ve responded and had to euthanize a bear. But for somebody to take two of them in the woods like that is unusual.”

The two were arrested after initial investigation. Lio was charged with two counts of illegal taking of a black bear and fourth-degree negligent hunting. He was released on $5,000 bond.

Moran was charged with conspiracy to commit illegal taking of a black bear and was released on $3,000 bond.

An effort to legalize trophy hunting of bears was rejected in May, when the state Senate voted against a bill that would have allowed a bear hunt in Connecticut for the first time in more than a century.

In the past year, there have been 17 black bear sightings in Wilton and close to 6,000 in Connecticut overall, according to the DEEP.

Wilton Environmental Affairs Director Mike Conklin will keep in contact with DEEP on the matter, according to First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice.

“All of us in town government share the public’s outrage and concern about the poaching of two bears within Wilton. Bears are protected in Connecticut. There is not a bear-hunting season,” Vanderslice wrote in a Wilton Facebook group page.

“The two individuals are poachers, not hunters. They are not participants in the Town’s annual controlled deer hunt, which began on September 15th,” she added, noting its purpose to reduce the spread of Lyme disease, motor vehicle accidents and to protect the ecology of the area. “Invited hunters are well experienced, safety oriented and have completed, at a minimum, all the appropriate State certifications courses and passed a CT background check performed by WPD.”


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561