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10 sentenced in N.C. bear-hunting operation

BRYSON CITY – A four-year investigation ended last week when 10 men were sentenced for their roles in what federal prosecutors say was a two-state illegal bear-hunting operation.

Investigators say the men charged in the case also hunted other types of animals illegally. Two of the men in the case were convicted of providing an illegal hunting service in the North Carolina and Georgia mountains.

State and federal wildlife officials announced a series of arrests in February, saying they had found 80 wildlife law violators and nearly 1,000 alleged violations.

Operation Something Bruin involved state wildlife agencies, local law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.

Prosecutors say they found cases of bear-baiting; illegal hunting of bears, deer and other wildlife; illegal use of dogs; and setting up illegal bear enclosures.

Most of those convicted received sentences of 30 days in prison, and most lost their hunting and fishing privileges for two years,

Those sentenced were: Chad Burchfield, 34, Robbinsville; Patrick Burchfield, 24, Robbinsville; Casey Collins, 26, Robbinsville; Kenneth Collins, 26, Robbinsville; Jessie Jenkins, 23, Robbinsville; Ricky Owens, 48, Robbinsville; Brian Quacca, 41, Groesbeck, Texas; Terry Ratliff, 55, Opelica, Ala.; Michael Sellers, 20, Robbinsville; and Robert Watson, 46, Morganton.

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