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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Black Bear Investigation


Jackson, Miss – Travis Butler, 28, of Meridian, pleaded guilty today to violating the Endangered Species Act and to obstructing the federal investigation into the killing of a Louisiana Black Bear in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. The Louisiana Black Blear is a protected species under the Endangered Species Act.

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

David Lucas Wimberly and Chester Brad Williams each previously pleaded guilty to an Endangered Species Act violation involving the same Louisiana Black Bear. They will be sentenced on June 30, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate and face a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison.

Butler will be sentenced on September 3, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate. He faces a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison under the Endangered Species Act and faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison for obstructing the investigation. As a result of his guilty plea today to the obstruction charge, Butler can no longer possess a firearm.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Deputy Criminal Division Chief Darren LaMarca is prosecuting the case.

Updated June 22, 2015