HomeOutdoorsNewsWATCH: Exhausted Black Bear Collapses Fending Off Massive Pack of Dogs

WATCH: Exhausted Black Bear Collapses Fending Off Massive Pack of Dogs

by Craig Garrett
American black bear (Ursus americanus) in forest - stock photo

The footage of a black bear struggling to fight off a pack of dogs has been instrumental in bringing charges against two houndsmen. In 2018, two houndsmen were criminally charged after a cellphone video of their frantic chase through Utah’s La Sal mountains near Moab surfaced. The men kept the bear in a cage for two days, KSL-TV 5 reports. They then released it and let the dogs chase it once again.

State wildlife managers grew concerned after seeing the video and shortly thereafter instituted new rules to prevent hunters from repeatedly chasing a bear until escape is impossible. Critics, however, argue that these changes are insufficient. They fear that other bears in Utah may be subject to abuse by those who consider hunting them for sport. “They ran this bear to total exhaustion,” Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan pointed out. “There’s not a lot of training going on. It’s total chaos.”

With the proper permit, using hounds to track down black bears is legal in Utah. However, most trainers choose to leave the bears be after they climb up a tree. According State wildlife managers. This 2018 event was an outlier and not indicative of normal behavior.

The actions seen in the video are certainly disconcerting, said Sloan. However, it’s not as black and white whether those same actions can be classified as criminal. As such, her office has filed charges against Utah houndsman Clifford Stubbs and Florida dog trainer William Tyler “Bo” Wood after coming across videos of the hunt during their investigation.

Wood was found guilty by a jury of misdemeanor charges for transporting the bear in a metal box, with hopes of reviving it. Stubbs plead guilty to similar counts in 2020. Wood has since appealed his convictions. Wood was accused of freeing the bear from its crate to be chased again. However, he was acquitted of the most severe charge–wanton destruction of wildlife, which is a felony.

Sloan emphasizes that Utah’s restrictions are contaminated. This led her to release the video to the public. It has already been reviewed by jurors and the state board in charge of hunting permits. With this attention, she is requesting a change. She is urging the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to explicitly state that pursuing a bear until it is exhausted is not allowed, but they have yet to do so.

“To me, that means our bears are being terrorized in our mountains,” Sloan explained. After the 2018 case, the state issued a limit of 16 hounds that could be used for chasing bears (eight during summer months). They also prohibited chases where the bear has little to no chance of escape. Furthermore, they reduced the number of permits available to out-of-state residents–often coming from states where this activity is illegal (e.g., Colorado, Wyoming and Florida).