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Press Release

Brainerd Man Pleads Guilty To Wildlife Trafficking, Trespassing After Removing The Head Of A Black Bear On The Red Lake Indian Reservation

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

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the guilty plea of BRETT JAMES STIMAC, 41, to wildlife trafficking and trespassing on Indian land after removing the head of a 700 pound black bear on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. STIMAC, who was charged by misdemeanor Information on December 6, 2019, entered his guilty plea today before Judge Susan Richard Nelson in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, on the evening of September 1, 2019, STIMAC, who is not an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, willfully, knowingly and without authorization or permission, entered the Red Lake Indian Reservation for the purposes of hunting a bear. The Government contends that STIMAC, using a compound bow, shot and killed a large American black bear near the Reservation’s garbage dump.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, on September 2, 2019, STIMAC returned to the dump the following day and located the bloody carcass of the bear. STIMAC posed for photographs with the bear’s carcass and later shared the photographs on social media. Because of the bear’s large size, STIMAC was unable to move the bear from the Reservation. Instead, STIMAC used a saw to remove the bear’s head for a trophy. STIMAC brought the bear’s head to a taxidermist in Ironton, Minnesota, and left the remainder of the carcass to spoil.

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians does not permit non-Indians to hunt bear, a clan animal, within the boundaries of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, due to the bear’s spiritual importance to the Band.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Red Lake Department of Public Safety, the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with assistance from the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Gina L. Allery and Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily A. Polachek are prosecuting the case.

Defendant Information:


Brainerd, Minn.


  • Lacey Act wildlife trafficking, 1 count
  • Trespass on Indian lands, 1 count




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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600


Updated September 17, 2020

Indian Country Law and Justice