TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Nine people used doughnuts and other foods as bait to lure black bears so packs of hunting dogs could maul the animals, according to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“Not only were these gruesome acts of violence repulsive and cruel, they were recorded and posted to social media for the amusement of the defendants,” Bondi said in a news release.
The suspects used pastries, peanut butter, drums of dog food and doughnuts to entice the bears, according to investigators.
Some of the disturbing videos posted to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat show the suspects “forcing the bears to a waiting pack of approximately a dozen dogs,” according to the release.
“The defendants themselves would come beat the trees, the bears would fall down, so the attack could happen,” Bondi said while speaking Wednesday at Zoo Tampa. “Or, one of these idiot defendants climbed the tree, so the bear would fall off.”
Once the bears were on the ground and surrounded, graphic social media videos showed the dogs mauling them. At least two bears died, according to WFLA.
“This is not hunting. This is not a sport. This is the worst of the worst,” Bondi said.
All nine suspects have been charged with animal cruelty, animal fighting or baiting, conspiracy to commit racketeering, littering, unlawful taking of black bears and the unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
They were identified as:
- Christopher Elliot Haun, 42, Ormond Beach, Fla.
- William Landrum, 39, Millboro, Va.
- Mark Lindsey, 26, Moultrie, Ga.
- Dustin Reddish, 25, Lake Butler, Fla.
- Haley Reddish, 25, Lake Butler, Fla.
- Charles Luther Scarbrough III, 30, Callahan, Fla.
- Hannah Weiner Scarbrough, 27, Callahan, Fla.
- Troy Travis Starling, 45, Lake Butler, Fla.
- William Tyler Wood, 29, Lake Butler, Fla.
“In Florida, we have no tolerance for vile animal cruelty, and we will hold anyone accountable who commits this heinous crime,” said Gov. Rick Scott.