Did you know it is unlawful to hunt black bears over bait in Montana? Yeah, we suspect this guy did, too.

And while those charges would sufficiently disgust most Montana hunters, a Sanders County man managed to take it even further before a lengthy investigation led to guilty pleas on multiple counts of illegal game hunting. Yes, the fines and hunting ban sanctions are pretty serious. But we acknowledge that lots of you think they should be even more severe.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that Alfred (Toby) Bridges of Sanders County pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanor hunting violations, including the unlawful hunting of black bears over bait and unlawfully killing an elk out of season. FWP game wardens and other officials conducted a year-long investigation into these illegal activities.

Mr. Bridges admitted to the unlawful hunting of black bears over bait, using a variety of human foods to attract bears into his hunting area. He pleaded guilty to two counts of killing black bears over bait and two counts of unlawful possession of those two black bears. But the case against Bridges grew from there.

As Montana FWP authorities started peeling away more layers during their investigation, they also discovered improprieties involving elk, deer and licensing.

Mr. Bridges subsequently plead guilty to one count of killing a cow elk out of season and  unlawful possession of that elk, one count of loan and transfer of a license for a white-tailed buck he shot using another individual’s license and one count of harvesting over his limit for the buck, since he had already shot one during the general hunting season.

The charges resulted in $9,605 in fines and restitution, and the loss of hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges for 54 months in all 47 states that participate in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which does include Montana.

But they are not exactly done with the bad guy just yet. Bridges pleaded not guilty to two additional charges related to a third black bear shot over bait. He has failed to appear on these charges and multiple warrants have been issued for his arrest.

Our congratulations to Montana FWP for their persistence and thorough investigation. And they in turn would like to remind anyone with possible information about crimes involving fish and wildlife resources is encouraged to call 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668). Callers may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 for information that leads to a conviction.

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