September 10, 2013

From HeraldOnline.com

COLUMBIA — A man charged with allowing hunting dogs to repeatedly attack and bite a captive bear has pleaded guilty to mistreating animals and agreed to give up three bears he kept in cages on remote land north of Greenville.

Monday’s plea by James Robert Grumbles resulted from a wide-sweeping state investigation of illegal hunting and treatment of black bears in the South Carolina mountains. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has in the past four weeks charged a dozen people with about 50 offenses, ranging from killing a mother bear with cubs to killing undersized bears.

Grumbles, a 65-year-old Travelers Rest resident, was charged with a felony count of animal cruelty but pleaded to a misdemeanor count in exchange for giving up the three bears he owns, according to the DNR. The bears will be sent to a wildlife preserve in Colorado in the next two to three weeks, McCullough said.

Hunting-dog competitions, according to the DNR, draw thousands of people to remote parts of the Upstate to watch dogs go after bears that are tied to a stake. The idea is to get dogs used to being around bears so they can help corner the animals during South Carolina’s hunting season in October.

But too often, dogs attack the bears, ripping their flesh and drawing blood, wildlife agents say. Bears have had some teeth removed and their claws have been filed down, making it difficult to defend themselves. During a competition, a bear might face hundreds of dogs in a day, according to the DNR. The events are called “bear-baying’’ competitions.

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