Minnesota Poacher Sentenced to Prison After Beheading Black Bear on Chippewa Reservation

by Jon D. B.

Brett Stimac will serve 15 months in prison alongside fines and supervision for his poaching and beheading of a Chippewa black bear.

The Minnesota poacher is finally seeing justice in the latest update from this heinous case. Brett James Stimac, 41, was sentenced in federal court Wednesday by Judge Susan Richard Nelson for wildlife trafficking, in addition to trespassing on Native American land to poach, then remove the head of a 700-pound black bear.

His crimes took place on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, of which he pleaded guilty to in September of 2020.

Black bears are sacred to many Native American tribes. The Red Lake Band, in particular, considers the bear a totemic spiritual animal. Their laws do not permit nontribal members to hunt bears.

Stimac, a Brainerd, Minnesota resident, will now serve 15 months in prison, alongside a $9,500 fine. A year of supervision will follow after release.

The crimes follow Stimac’s previous convictions of deer hunting violations in 2011, and illegally transporting big game in 2008.

In our previous coverage of his black bear poaching, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Minnesota state Stimac was unable to move the bear himself. He first tried to take its hide as a result. Proving incapable of this, he then “cut off the bear’s head, paws and 71 pounds of meat, leaving the remains” to rot on the Native American Reservation.

Heinous Black Bear Poaching Results in Hard Time

According to Dept. of Justice’s June 9, 2021 press release, “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.”

In addition, the Government contends that Stimac, using a compound bow, “shot and killed a large American black bear near the Reservation’s garbage dump.”

Court documents indicate the location of Stimac’s arrow shows the bear was fleeing when shot. Stimac then reportedly went in search of the bear on Sept. 2. When he found it, he “sawed off its head and paws to keep as trophies.”

At the time, Stimac would post a photo of himself with the black bear on Facebook (see above). His caption read: “got it done last night with an absolute giant over 700 pounds.”

The image began circulating within hunting groups. The photo drew outrage from hunting communities online – with dozens of hunters condemning the poaching and Stimac’s trespassing on Reservation land. From there, law-abiding hunters began reporting his post to authorities.

These poaching violations and criminal charges add to an existing record of criminal activity. Laws on poaching vary by state. In most U.S. states, poaching is a misdemeanor. Only by a third offense is a poacher charged with a felony.