There's a hunter out there with a $10,000 bull's-eye on his back. That's the reward being offered for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of whoever shot dead a grizzly bear and her cub in northern Idaho.
Grizzlies are on the Endangered Species Act list and thus may not be hunted in the Lower 48. An estimated 40-50 grizzlies live in the region, Jason Holm, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, told msnbc.com, so killing two is a significant number.
It wasn't clear why the grizzlies were shot, given that the carcasses were still there. Officials would not elaborate on whether any body parts were taken.
"We can't reveal details pertinent to the investigation, including specifics on the carcass condition," Holm said.
A black bear hunting season is open in Idaho, raising the possibility that someone mistook the grizzlies, also known as brown bears, for black bears.
While federal and state officials investigate, several private groups stepped up with the reward. Holm said they preferred to remain anonymous.
The two bears appeared to have been dead a few days when found May 18.
The mama grizzly was discovered by a hiker in a clear-cut area on Hall Mountain, east of the Kootenai River valley and northwest of U.S. 95. A subsequent search of the area turned up her dead cub.
Anyone with tips is encouraged to call: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 509-928-6050; the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-769-1414; or the Idaho Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous.
Anyone convicted of killing wildlife protected under the Endangered Species Act faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Holm, for his part, hoped that the substantial reward would produce some quick results.
"I trust the shooter is sleeping poorly tonight, knowing his softball teammates, drinking buddies and family members are currently weighing whether they appreciate him or the ability to receive $10,000 anonymously more," he said. "I hope the reward and the truly callous nature of the crime persuade someone to do the right thing."
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