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Wednesday, 03 December 2014 15:32

Operation Something Bruin backlash still simmering

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Hunters who claimed they were unfairly targeted in an undercover wildlife poaching investigation will get a chance to share their grievances and concerns with a state-appointed committee tasked with looking into the issue.

A public meeting will be held before a panel of state legislators at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 8, at Stecoah Valley Center in Graham County. The 10-member House Select Committee tasked with examining the role of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

One issue on the committee’s plate is whether the Wildlife Commission acted within its authority during an undercover criminal operation targeting alleged poachers.

The four-year undercover investigation targeted hunters across the mountain, racking up hunting violations against dozens of bear hunters. But many of those who ended up with charges claimed they were victims of a fishing expedition and that wildlife officers used entrapment and coercion.

“This committee is coming to hear victims speak,” said Linda Crisp of Graham County. “We have suffered entrapment and abuses of power at the hands of certain wildlife officials as a result of Operation Something Bruin.” 

Some of those charged have been convicted, while others have seen their charges reduced or cases thrown out completely.

N.C. Rep. Roger West, R-Murphy, is one of the legislators on the committee. The public is invited to attend.

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