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Back to Bear Stuff TopBear Killer Nabbed After DNA Analysis

KANE, Pa. CAP) - Wildlife officers used a dead bear's DNA to prove that a hunter illegally shot the animal in its den.

Michael Autry, 27, of Bridgeville, a Pittsburgh suburb, was found guilty last month and fined $1,000, both for killing the bear and for lying about the circumstances. He could also lose his hunting license.

Investigators said Autry shot the 240-pound female black bear in its den on Nov. 20, then dragged the carcass out, took it to a checkpoint and told officials that he had killed the animal five miles from the den.

Another hunter who saw Autry kill the animal reported the episode to officials, who took blood and hair samples at both the checkpoint and the den.

The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore., conducted DNA testing and matched the two sets of samples.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission "will take advantage of all new technologies that science makes available to us in protecting Pennsylvania's wildlife," said executive director Victor Ross.

It is against state law to shoot a bear in its den, because female bears found in dens during hunting season are usually pregnant.

Autry is appealing his conviction, arguing that the state's definition of a "den" is murky.

Source: Associated Press 6/11/01

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