A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division investigation of an illegally taken black bear has resulted in a guilty plea of a New Iberia man in Federal Western District Court in Lafayette on Aug. 17.
Cory R. Ronsonet, 39, pled guilty before Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Hanna for one count of violating the endangered species act for illegally taking a Louisiana black bear. A pre-sentence investigation is in progress to help determine penalties. Ronsonet could receive up to $100,000 dollars in fines and up to one-year imprisonment.
LDWF initiated the investigation during the 2008-09 hunting season after receiving a public tip that a black bear had been shot and the bear was skinned and stored in a fashion to mount it in the future. Agents then found a black bear skin and its decapitated head on May 19, 2011 off of Daniel Lane near a subdivision in New Iberia. During the investigation, Ronsonet admitted to LDWF Enforcement Division agents on May 31, 2011 of taking the black bear in question.
"This is a perfect example of the public and law enforcement working together to help solve a case. The agents did a great job of pursuing the perpetrator for over a year and bringing justice to this case," said Col. Winton Vidrine, Chief of LDWF's Enforcement Division. "Due to the nature of a federal investigation, enforcement officials were not able to provide any details about the investigation until this point."
LDWF Senior Agent David Boudreaux was the lead investigator on the case and was assisted by Sgts. James Rhodes, Mitch Darby, Brian Theriot and Senior Agent Jason Romero. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Special Agent Phillip Siragusa also assisted with the investigation.
The bear had been a part of LDWF's black bear program and was first tagged in 2000 when it was estimated to be six years old. The passive integrated transponder implanted during the initial capture was left in the hide when the bear was skinned and provided positive identification. LDWF had never received a nuisance call about this older male bear that lived mostly in the Weeks Island area of lower Iberia Parish.
The Louisiana black bear has been listed on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species List since 1992. Citizens are reminded that killing a Louisiana black bear is a violation of both state law and the federal Endangered Species Act.
For more information, contact Adam Einck at firstname.lastname@example.org.