Bear capture case illuminates dark side of pursuing wildlife with dogs for ‘sport’

Parowan man who pleaded guilty wants his hunting privileges restored, while a dog trainer is headed to trial on felony charges.

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Utah law allows hunters to pursue black bears with dogs, but a case involving a Florida dog trainer shows how this "sport" can veer off into criminality.

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Utah law allows hunters to pursue black bears with dogs, but a case involving a Florida dog trainer shows how this “sport” can veer off into criminality.By Brian Maffly  | June 7, 2021, 5:00 a.m.| Updated: 6:26 a.m.

They chased a bear with dogs for at least 90 minutes before it collapsed from exhaustion and cowered in fear, then they put the dehydrated animal in a cage when it became unresponsive and appeared to be dying.

According to court records, William “Bo” Wood kept the bear at his hunting camp in Grand County for two days. After the bear recovered he released the animal to pursue it again, in violation of Utah hunting regulations that prohibit capturing bears and other protected wildlife.

While using dogs to pursue bears is legal and growing in popularity in Utah, the 2018 incident in the La Sal Mountains resulted in felony charges against Wood, 31, a Florida dog trainer who has been arrested for allegedly abusing bears in his home state, and his Utah companion Clifford Stubbs of Parowan.

The incident shines a light into the little-known and ethically suspect practice of pursuing wild animals for sport. Critics say such pursuits harass wildlife, which is not legal in any other context, and could endanger anyone coming upon a bear that had been traumatized by dogs.

Such concerns were front and center in this case, according to evidence presented Thursday to the Utah Wildlife Board as it weighed the fate of Stubbs’s hunting privileges.

Stubbs told the board he knew nothing of his friend’s crimes and condemned Wood’s alleged abuses. A 48-year-old concrete contractor, Stubbs did plead guilty to reduced misdemeanor wildlife violations, but asked the board to drop the three-year suspension imposed by the Division of Wildlife Resources, known as DWR. Stubbs claimed he acted to save the bear, which had collapsed beside a road near homes in a place called Willow Basin near Moab.

“The division wants to use wildlife conservation laws to punish Cliff for conserving wildlife,” his lawyer Brent Ward told the Wildlife Board. ”He had a humane interest in preserving the bear. He did not want a dead bear on his hands. There’s nothing illegal or inappropriate in wanting to keep a bear from dying. Surely that was a greater good than letting the bear die.”(Screen shot courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
This video image depicts several dogs cornering a female black bear during a pursuit on May 19, 2018 in Grand County. The video was found on the phone of William "Bo" Wood, a Florida dog trainer now awaiting trial on felony charges stemming from the incident.

(Screen shot courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) This video image depicts several dogs cornering a female black bear during a pursuit on May 19, 2018 in Grand County. The video was found on the phone of William “Bo” Wood, a Florida dog trainer now awaiting trial on felony charges stemming from the incident.

During the three-hour hearing, some board members agreed there were mitigating factors weighing in Stubbs’s favor, but following two hours of deliberation in 4-3 vote, the board upheld Stubbs’s suspension, which doesn’t affect Stubbs’s ability to hunt animals other than bears and cougars.

The decision pleased DWR officials.

“This type of behavior is not representative of the vast majority of people and was not only unsportsmanlike, but it is also illegal,” said Justin Shirley, DWR’s chief of law enforcement. “We always encourage people to contact DWR officials rather than take matters into their own hands. Our agency is committed to enforcing and promoting legal hunting, and this did not fit that description.”

DWR lawyer Kyle Maynard argued Stubbs knowingly violated statutes intended to protect not only wildlife, but also preserve hunting.

“Mr. Stubbs and his hunting party pursued a bear to the point of exhaustion and became concerned the bear may die, something not allowed under a bear pursuit permit. In an attempt to avoid one violation, they committed another. Mr. Stubbs and his party at this point deliberated and made a choice to pick the exhausted bear up, bring it into their possession, locking in a dog box,” Maynard told the board. “He wasn’t acting to save the bear. He was acting to save himself from what he believed was a more serious violation.”(Screenshot via Zoom) Clifford Stubbs testifying before the Wildlife Board on June 3, 2021 in an effort to get his hunting privileges restored following his conviction in a bear pursuit gone bad.

(Screenshot via Zoom) Clifford Stubbs testifying before the Wildlife Board on June 3, 2021 in an effort to get his hunting privileges restored following his conviction in a bear pursuit gone bad.

Stubbs, who has pursued hundreds of bears in his 22 years in the sport, had never run afoul of wildlife rules before May 19, 2018, when he and Wood chased the female bear in circles. Video Wood shot at the chase’s conclusion shows the barely mobile bear under attack by nine baying dogs. The two-minute clip, which DWR attorneys showed the Wildlife Board, indicates the bear is so spent it can’t move its hind legs as it moans in fear, with the dogs barking and nipping at it. Yet no one is shown in the video trying to restrain the dogs, although Wood can be heard shooing the bear away from a tree it was trying to climb.

Stubbs said he immediately pulled his dogs away from the bear when he arrived on the scene as his companions discussed killing it. He knew that killing the bear would be illegal and would require a report to DWR.

But leaving the bear was not a good option either because the spot was near homes, he said. A curious passerby was liable to get injured if they startled the bear. So Stubbs reasoned the best option was to take the bear to camp, but on Thursday he acknowledged the better move would have been to call DWR for help.

The men put the bear into a box built for dogs, loaded it into a pickup and drove to camp and provided it with water and Gatorade.

Stubbs went home about an hour later while the caged bear was still unresponsive, he told the board. Wood led him to believe the animal recovered and was released later that day without incident. He claimed he didn’t learn of the bear’s prolonged incarceration and second chase until he was criminally charged the following year.(Marion County Sheriff's Office) William "Bo" Wood faces felony charges in Utah for allegedly capturing a black bear during a 2018 hunt that went bad.

(Marion County Sheriff’s Office) William “Bo” Wood faces felony charges in Utah for allegedly capturing a black bear during a 2018 hunt that went bad.

The case came to light after Florida wildlife officials began investigating Wood in response to social media posts depicting what appeared to be illegal bear hunts. They seized his phone which they discovered contained images of a bear confined in a truck registered to Stubbs, according to Utah DWR conservation officers Kody Jones and Adam Wallerstein. The officers testified the phone contain 30 videos showing the Utah bear’s chase, capture and captivity—all of which will likely be used as evidence against Wood at his trial.

Bear hunting and pursuits are two distinct activities in Utah. Hunters bagged 443 bears last year, an increase from 369 bears harvested in 2019, according to DWR data.

Bear chases are the subject of a different permit system in which permits are awarded for spring, summer and fall seasons. Statewide 557 permits were awarded in 2018 and the La Sal Mountains are a popular place in Utah to chase bears.

Under Utah’s hunting regulations, bear pursuers, known as houndsmen, are not allowed to target cubs or mothers with cubs. They may use no more than 16 dogs in a single pursuit, or eight during the summer. Once a bear is treed, it must be allowed a pathway to escape and the pursuit may not be resumed. The spring pursuit season this year ran from April 3 to May 31.

Many aspects of that first pursuit were problematic, but where it crossed the line into criminality was when they put the animal in a box and held it captive, Maynard said.

Ward argued that Stubbs could not have “captured” the bear because if was so incapacitated it could not even walk. But Stubbs had participated in the underlying chase that resulted in the animal’s collapse, and whether the bear could escape was irrelevant, Maynard said.

The agency “places an emphasis on respecting wildlife we hunt. The act of hunting is a form of appreciation for wildlife and the opportunities they provide,” he told the board. “We have rules to preserve our opportunity to hunt and enjoy wildlife. This is not what bear pursuit is about and the longevity of this sport depends on upholding the legal and ethical obligations of houndsmen.”

For his criminal conviction, Stubbs was given a one-year suspended jail sentence, paid $1,500 fine and performed 52 hours of community service.

Wood, meanwhile, faces serious legal jeopardy in Florida, where authorities have seized his dogs and filed charges of racketeering, animal abuse and wildlife violations stemming from a series of illegal bear hunts, some of which Wood allegedly celebrated on social media with video posts showing dogs assaulting prone bears.

Wood is free on bail awaiting trial in Florida, then later in Moab’s 7th District Court.

Georgian Bluffs reminding residents of how to avoid attracting bears

Author of the article:Rob GowanPublishing date:Jun 03, 2021  •  1 day ago  •  4 minute read  •   Join the conversation

A black bear that made its way into Owen Sound in May 2015.
A black bear that made its way into Owen Sound in May 2015. PHOTO BY SUN TIMES FILES

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Georgian Bluffs is informing its residents about bears after sightings of the animals in the municipality this spring.

The municipality intends to post some information on its website about what people should do when encountering the animals and how to prevent bear encounters. The move comes after the animals were spotted in the municipality in recent days, particularly in the northern areas around Lake Charles, Kemble, Big Bay and beyond.18 best online deals in the Canadian retail space right now about:blank


Clerk Brittany Drury said during Wednesday’s council meeting that staff had reached out to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry about best practices pertaining to bear sightings. They have received some messaging that will be posted on the municipality’s website.

“We see this regularly every spring so we try to do a spring reminders commentary section on our website,” Drury said, adding they hope to have the information posted this week.



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Among the steps people are reminded to take are storing garbage in a bear-proof location until it is time for pickup, cleaning barbecues and grease traps, putting away bird feeders until winter months and keeping pet food indoors.

Mayor Dwight Burley reminded residents in rural areas to place their garbage out or in the bin at the end of their laneway on the day of pickup only.

“A bear tends to want to go where the foodsource is and if there is garbage sitting in their bins for quite a while it will probably attract them,” said Burley.

Council discussed the possibility of signs informing residents of numbers they could call to report bear sightings and damage or in the event of an emergency.

It was suggested that the municipality could include information on its digital signs at its municipal office in Springmount and at the Shallow Lake Community Centre.

On Monday, a bear was also spotted on Owen Sound’s west side. The animal was not acting aggressively and was last seen wandering into the bush area of the escarpment.

The public is reminded that should they see a bear they should not approach it or feed it. Remain calm as the bear is often just passing through and will move on if no food source is found. Pets should be kept inside if a bear is spotted and if personal safety is at risk, 911 should be called.

If a bear slowly approaches, a person is advised to slowly back away, watching the bear. Do not turn and run – make noise, throw rocks or sticks and make yourself appear as big as possible.



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The MNR says bear attacks are rare, however if a bear does attack do not play dead unless you are sure it is a mother bear attacking you in defence of its cubs. Fighting back is the best chance of discouraging a bear from continuing to attack, so use a large stick, a rock, or anything else that you can to deter the bear.

If a bear is wandering around checking garbage or knocking down bird feeders, the public should call the administration line of their local police department or the Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327.

More information on what to do if a black bear is encountered and how to prevent such encounters, visit

Colorado woman, 3 bears killed in rare attack

Wildlife officers said they found “signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene.”

A 39-year-old woman was found dead north of Durango, Colo., after what officials believe was a bear attack on Friday April 30, 2021.

A 39-year-old woman was found dead north of Durango, Colo., after what officials believe was a bear attack on Friday April 30, 2021.via Colorado Parks and WildlifeMay 1, 2021, 1:37 PM PDTBy Dennis Romero

A 39-year-old Colorado woman was killed in an apparent bear attack while walking her two dogs, authorities said Saturday.

Her boyfriend told officials he returned home around 8:30 p.m. MT Friday, according to state parks officials. He discovered the dogs outside the residence near Trimble, Colorado, but the woman was missing.

He found her body an hour later and called 911, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.

Wildlife officers said they found “signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene.”

A dog team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services subsequently found a female black bear with two yearlings nearby.


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The bears were euthanized. The mother bear’s teeth indicate she was bout 10-years-old, parks officials said.

“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” Cory Chick, southwest region manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said in the statement. “This is a tragic event and a sad reminder that bears are wild and potentially dangerous.”

The woman’s name was expected to be released by a local coroner, who is expected to perform an autopsy early next week.

No more shooting to scare Pyrenees bears, French court rules

Tensions over the presence of brown bears in the Pyrenees have run high for decades. Photo: AFPAFP/The
@thelocalfrance6 February 202115:26 CET+01:00Livestock owners in the French Pyrenees can no longer fire warning shots to scare off endangered bears, a court ruled on Friday, handing a victory to animal rights groups who warned of the risk of accidental deaths.

Tensions over the presence of brown bears in mountains separating France and Spain have run high since a re-introduction effort was launched in the mid-1990s.

Farmers were furious when the government stepped up its efforts with a 10-year “bear plan” in 2018, mounting fierce protests when the first female was brought in by helicopter that year.

They say the warning shots are needed to keep the predators from killing sheep and other livestock or destroying bee hives, and authorities began allowing them on a trial basis in 2019.

But the State Council, the country’s top administrative court, struck down the measure after around a dozen pro-bear associations filed a complaint.

It said warning shots are not compatible with “maintaining the populations in their natural environment.”

Contacted by AFP, the environment ministry did not immediately comment.

In a joint statement, the associations welcomed the ruling, saying the decree “made it possible to get around the ban on intentionally disturbing a protected species.”

Three bears were killed in the Pyrenees last year, including one by a hunter who said he acted in self-defence.

In January, the European Commission called on France to rapidly carry out new re-introductions to replace them, as called for in its “bear plan.” There are about 50 bears currently in the Pyrenees, and French officials have said early indications point to a reduction in the number of livestock killed by them last year, after 1,173 animals were killed and 36 bee hives destroyed in 2019. READ ALSO: Shepherds on French-Spanish border fear that bears will strike again

What Biden Means for Bears

ABiden victory likely signals a sea change in federal policy approaches in ways that should be beneficial for large mammals like grizzly bears. While Biden may not have a grizzly-policy per se, his platform addresses key issues—such as climate change and conservation—that will impact the health of grizzlies as a part of the large landscapes of the Mountain West. 

Here’s a quick primer on where we expect positive changes:

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

In 2017, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the removal of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48, which strikingly, would have allowed grizzlies to be trophy hunted in the Mountain West. The decision was quickly challenged in the courts and overturned in 2018; in July of 2020, courts again ruled that the approximately 3,000 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho would remain listed and protected. 

These battles have been part of a larger campaign to weaken the Endangered Species Act over the last four years, in which the Trump administration has made it more difficult to protect species and removed protections from animals listed as ‘threatened’ under the ESA. And it’s not just bears who’ve been the target: in October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife removed all ESA protections for gray wolves in the Lower 48

Under a Biden administration, we are unlikely to see further efforts to delist the grizzly. We will also likely see a halt in attacks on the ESA, as the President-elect has committed to upholding and building new coalitions to support the act. 

Public Lands & Conservation 

As part of the cabinet, the Secretary of the Interior is appointed by the president, and oversees succeeding government agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation. These agencies’ on-the-ground work significantly impacts the conservation (or lack thereof) of our public lands and the creatures who roam through those areas.

Trump appointed fossil-fuel lobbyist Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, and (after Zinke resigned due to financial scandal) David Berndhardt, a former oil executive. Under Zinke and Berndhardt, the Interior has made drastic moves to open up public lands to new oil and gas wells, logging, mineral extraction, livestock leasing, and other development. 

Under a Biden administration, we can expect presidentially-appointed officials who more genuinely support conservation over development. Additionally, Biden has committed to banning new oil and gas development on public lands. While there isn’t much research vis-a-vis fracking’s impact on grizzlies, energy development comes hand-in-hand with new road building, and as a 2019 study from the University of Alberta showed, more roads simply equals fewer grizzlies. “Not only do bears die near roads,” commented author of the study, Clayton Lamb, to Science Daily, but “bears also avoid these areas, making many habitats with roads through them less effective.” 

Not to be overlooked, the Biden-Harris platform also includes conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. This “30 by 30” goal is ambitious; according to Scientific American, however, it could have bipartisan support under a Biden Administration and is considered by many to be the “last best hope for saving many of the United States’ iconic species and wild places.”

Climate Change 

The argument that succeeded in keeping grizzlies on the Endangered Species List hinged on  climate change, and specifically, uncertainty around how bears would respond to declines in whitebark pine seeds. The seeds are an important food source for bears and are diminishing due to warming-accelerated beetle infestations, shrinking habitable territory, and intensifying wildfire cycles. 

Whether because of shifting seasonality and abundance of food sources, or the negative impacts of warming on hibernation, there are climate-related threats facing grizzlies, and we don’t yet know how bears will fare in a warmer future. 

President Trump has an equivocally poor record on climate policies and environmental protections. His administration has rolled back nearly 100 environmental rules, in sectors ranging from wildlife protections to drilling to air pollution. In contrast, Biden has committed to re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement, reinstating regulations on methane pollution from fracking, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. 

In fact, Biden’s 2 trillion dollar climate plan is arguably the most progressive in presidential history. His ability to enact such a climate plan will be limited if the Senate remains Republican, but we can still expect the President-elect to use his executive powers to restore environmental rules and to pursue other pathways towards climate progress. And the more we limit warming, the more species and ecosystems we preserve, which on the big-picture scale is good news for grizzlies. 

In short, we’re relieved and enthusiastic to look ahead to days in which the large landscapes of the West—an integral element of our communities and culture—are valued for the immense, irreplaceable resources that they are.

What not to do in a bear attack? Push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself, says the National Park Service

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 1:24 PM ET, Sat August 8, 2020

What to do if you encounter a bear

(CNN)If you’re being confronted by a bear, there’s a few things you should know before running away.As people across the country visiting parks and taking trips to the mountains find themselves in terrifying encounters with bears, the National Park Service (NPS) has offered a few tips on what to do if you’re face-to-face with the furry beasts.The first tip? “Please don’t run from bears or push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself,” the NPS joked in a Facebook post Wednesday.⁣⁣The best thing to do to safely remove yourself from a bear confrontation is move away slowly and sideways so you can keep an eye on the bear without tripping. Bears are not threatened when you move sideways, but like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals.Content by CNN UnderscoredFace masks that support a good causeFace masks have become our new normal, and with these masks, you can make sure you’re doing even more good than usual.″Do not climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.⁣⁣ Do not push down a slower friend (even if you think the friendship has run its course),” the NPS added. “Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Don’t we all?”Another tip is to identify yourself by making noise, specifically your voice, so the bear doesn’t confuse you for an animal and knows you’re human. While a curious bear might come closer or stand on its hind legs to examine and smell you, it is not threatening.

A bear attacks a woman. She fights it off -- with her laptop

A bear attacks a woman. She fights it off — with her laptopWhile bear attacks are rare, their behaviors can be unpredictable and an attack can lead to serious injuries or death, according to the NPS.To avoid an encounter with a bear, hike and travel in groups, do not allow bears access to your food and leave the area if you see a bear.If you are attacked by a brown or grizzly bear, leave your backpack on and play dead by laying flat on your stomach with your hands behind your neck and legs spread. If the bear continues to attack you, fight back by hitting the bear in the face.If you are being attacked by a black bear, do not play dead but instead try to escape to a secure place or if you can’t, fight back using any available object, according to NPS.⁣⁣

Huge black bear spotted relaxing in a pool is one big summer mood

By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

Updated 2:10 PM ET, Sat July 25, 2020A large black bear wandered into Regina Keller's yard and decided to stay awhile. A large black bear wandered into Regina Keller’s yard and decided to stay awhile.

(CNN)A woman in Virginia was delighted when a large black bear decided to take a nap in a kiddie pool she had in her backyard.Regina Keller, no stranger to bears, has been taking pictures of the wildlife in her backyard for 12 years.Her home is remote and backs up to the George Washington National Forest in Fort Valley, Virginia, so she is used to a variety of furry visitors including deer, bears, foxes, and squirrels.On July 19, she was watering her flowers when a large male bear wandered into her yard.

Two bear cubs rescued in Sudbury after mom is killed by a vehicle

Darren MacDonaldCTV News Northern Ontario Digital Content Producer

@Darrenmacd ContactPublished Thursday, July 16, 2020 2:19PM EDTLast Updated Thursday, July 16, 2020 6:59PM EDT

bear cubs

The cubs were tranquilized and trapped so they could be safely transported to Bear With Us Centre for Bears, where they will be cared for and released next year. (Supplied)

SUDBURY — Two bear cubs have been taken to an animal sanctuary after their mother was killed by a vehicle in the Sudbury community of Garson last week.

A social media post by the city on Thursday said after their mom was killed, the two cubs scrambled up a tree in a nearby park.

“City parks staff spotted the cubs and called in Greater Sudbury Police and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to help,” the city said. “These two beautiful cubs are in safe hands today after a frightening and tragic ordeal.”

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The cubs were tranquilized and trapped so they could be safely transported to Bear With Us Centre for Bears, where they will be cared for and released next year.

A photo of the snoozing little bruins after they were captured and also posted on social media by the city.

“Thanks to everyone who helped give these two cubs a safe and happy outcome!” the city said.