In September 2019, Brett Stimac poached a 700-pound black bear on the Red Lake Reservation in northwestern Minnesota.
As if this crime wasn’t bad enough, Stimac, 41, couldn’t figure out how to move the massive carcass. In a lazy attempt to claim his “trophy,” he sawed off the head and allowed all of the meat to spoil.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, “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. Using a compound bow, Stimac shot and killed a large black bear near the Reservation’s garbage dump.”
Like so many other thoughtless poachers, Stimac returned home and posted a photo of himself and the bear on social media. He claimed to have “got it done last night with an absolute giant over 700 pounds.” The photo quickly circulated across hunting groups and drew attention to his illicit act.
However, as soon as Stimac was called to federal court, he weaved a false tale that he actually stumbled across the bear already deceased and “saw an opportunity to appear to be a hero,” his attorney wrote in support of his false claim. “He did it because he wanted to be recognized as a mighty hunter with the [accompanying] glory and attention.”
A year later, Stimac pleaded guilty to federal misdemeanor charges for trespassing and wildlife trafficking—a violation of the Lacey Act. Judge Susan Richard Nelson sentenced him to 15 months of prison time, a $9,500 fine, and a year of supervised probation following his release.
Stimac has a long criminal history in Minnesota, including convictions for criminal damage to property (2014), felon in possession of a firearm (2011), receiving stolen property (2009), illegal transportation of big game (2008), second-degree felony assault with a dangerous weapon (2008), receiving stolen property (2000), and disorderly conduct (1999), according to The Bemidji Pioneer.
MeatEater commends the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Red Lake Department of Public Safety, Red Lake Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Minnesota Department of Justicefor delivering justice in this case.
Stimac reports for prison on July 6. Hopefully he finds the time to read a book or two on wildlife conservation and the significance of Native lands while serving his sentence.
Feature image via Facebook.