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Press Release

Meridian Man Sentenced For Black Bear Killing

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


Jackson, Miss – Travis Butler, 30, of Meridian, Mississippi, was sentenced on February 28, 2017, to five years’ probation with five months’ home confinement for violating the Endangered Species Act, and for a felony offense of obstructing the federal investigation that eventually led to his arrest, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge Luis Santiago. Butler was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,333.33.

Also sentenced in the case were David Lucas Wimberly, 37, of Quitman, Mississippi, and Chester Brad Williams, 52, of Toomsuba, Mississippi, for their help in the taking and possession of the bear. Wimberly and Williams were sentenced in July of 2015 to one year of probation, a $1,000 fine, and a prohibition from hunting for one year. Williams was further placed on home confinement for four months.

On January 4, 2014, Butler arranged for a taxidermist in Quitman, Mississippi, to mount a Louisiana Black Bear illegally killed in the Whynot Community of Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Butler and Williams then transported the bear to Wimberly’s Taxidermy in Quitman. Some 32 days later when federal and state wildlife officers began their investigation into the killing, Butler caused Wimberly to conceal the bear’s hide from a federal investigator.

All men pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act. Butler also pleaded guilty to obstructing the federal investigation into the killing, a felony. The Louisiana Black Blear was a protected species under the Endangered Species Act until March of 2016, when it was delisted.

United States Attorney Gregory K. Davis commended the work of the federal and state wildlife officers for collaborating effectively in solving this senseless killing. "The efforts of the State of Mississippi in repopulating the Louisiana Black Bear to its natural range would have gone unfulfilled but for the listing of the Louisiana Black Bear years ago as a protected species," said Davis. "Because of the protection and the work of these wildlife officers, the people of Mississippi have the opportunity of enjoying one of nature’s most beautiful creatures for generations to come."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge Luis Santiago stated: "We take our mission working with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and the citizens of Mississippi in conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats very seriously. We will continue working vigorously investigating those who choose to violate state and federal laws."

The investigation in this case was conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Updated March 6, 2017