A North Carolina man is facing multiple charges after he allegedly illegally killed and then dismembered three black bears earlier this fall.
John Robert Bunkley, Jr., 26, has been hit with 20 charges, according to the state’s Wildlife Resources Commission, including, three counts of unlawful possession, one count of littering, and three counts of failure to validate.
The announcement came after residents found the bears, one sow and two cubs, in Woodfin in late November. Following the discovery, the commission and Help Asheville Bears offered $5,000 to anyone with information leading to an arrest.
“The community response was incredible,” a spokesperson for NCWR wrote in an email to ABC News 10. “And we are appreciative of the information given to Help Asheville Bears that led us to the suspect.”
Police did not arrest Bunkley, the spokesperson added. Instead, they handed him official citations and charged him in person.
“HAB is ecstatic,” read an announcement from Help Asheville Bears. “The whole community is ecstatic. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. People in our area really love our bears. This wasn’t hunting. Hunting, you get one bear per year. This was a mom with two cubs, highly illegal. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.”
NC Bear Poacher Left a Behind a Horrifying Scene on Thanksgiving Weekend
Residents of Woodfin discovered the horrifying scene on Nov. 23. The killer had mutilated the animals and then left their remains for all to see.
“There were the bodies…and a bucket with intestines,” Harry Reese Jr. told News 13 on Dec. 1. “It’s just scary.”
NCWRC officer first responded on Nov. 30 and then again on Dec.1.
“The carcasses were dismembered, the paws were left on the scene, and the meat was removed to the extent that the bears’ weight nor the cause of death could be determined. This is an active investigation,” said the NCWRC spokesperson.
Officials with NCWRC are working alongside the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office. But because of the “ongoing nature of this investigation,” neither office can share any further details into the matter.
Bunkley should appear in court on March 9, 2023.
Several residents said that they are happy to see officials made quick headway. And not only do they hope for a quick resolution, but they also hope that the courts come down hard on the alleged criminal.
“I’m just happy someone is going to be held accountable,” Harry Reese Jr added. “And I would like to think there is jail time and not just a slap on the wrist.”