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Brett Stimac Sentenced To Year In Prison For Beheading Black Bear On Red Lake Indian Reservation

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- A Brainerd man faces more than a year in prison for beheading a black bear on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in 2019.

A federal judge sentenced Brett Stimac to 15 months in prison Wednesday, along with a year of supervised release and a $9,500 fine.

In Sept. 2020, Stimac pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of wildlife trafficking and trespassing on Indian land, although his lawyer alleges that only half of the federal government's story is accurate.

Prosecutors said Stimac killed the bear with a compound bow near the reservation's garbage dump and came back later to remove the bear's head for a trophy.

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians does not permit those who are not band members to hunt bear, a clan animal, within the boundaries of the reservation, due to the bear's spiritual significance to the tribe, prosecutors said. Stimac isn't an enrolled member of the tribe.

Stimac's attorney, Brian Toder, said Stimac originally lied about shooting the bear, but the animal was already dead when his client found it.

Authorities said Stimac killed the bear on Sept. 1, 2019, and returned to the reservation the next day with his girlfriend, posing for photos with the bear's carcass. He posted the photos on Facebook, along with a post claiming the bear was more than 700 pounds.

Because of the bear's size, Stimac could not move the bear from the reservation. He went back to the reservation on Sept. 3 and tried to remove the bear's hide. When he couldn't do that, he used a saw to remove the bear's head and paws and harvested about 71 pounds of meat, according to court documents.

He left the rest of the carcass and at least one paw behind, the charges said.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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