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Press Release

Bear Poachers Banned from Hunting and Banned from the Cherokee National Forest

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

            KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On September 4, 2019, Keith Bernard McJunkin, 59, of Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and Levi Zachary Wilson, 31, of Tellico Plains, Tennessee, were found guilty by the Honorable H. Bruce Guyton, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge, of baiting bears inside the Cherokee National Forest.  Each defendant was sentenced to 2 years of probation and banned from hunting anywhere or entering any national forest for a period of 2 years.  Keith McJunkin was also ordered to pay $1,600 in fines, and Levi Wilson was ordered to pay $1,100 in fines.


            Keith McJunkin and Levi Wilson were two members of a group of hunters from Tellico Plains, Tennessee, who baited and trapped bears inside the Cherokee National Forest in July and August of 2018.  Terry Worth McJunkin, 37, Joseph Don Taylor, 38, and Derrick F. Cathey, 32, each previously pleaded guilty to hunting bear over bait.  Terry McJunkin was sentenced to 5 years of probation with a 5-year hunting ban and 5-year national-forest ban and ordered to pay $4,000 in fines.  Joseph Taylor and Derrick Cathey were each sentenced to 2 years of probation with a 1-year hunting ban and 1-year national-forest ban.  Joseph Taylor was also ordered to pay $3,000 in fines and $250 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service.  Derrick Cathey was ordered to pay $250 in fines.


            The investigation of the illegal bear poaching was jointly conducted by officers from the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke A. McLaurin represented the United States.                                                      


Raine Palmer - Substitute PIO

Updated October 7, 2019