Brainerd resident Brett James Stimac, 40, was charged with misdemeanor wildlife trafficking and trespassing on Indian lands after shooting and killing a bear on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald, announced Friday, Dec. 6.
Stimac will make his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois in U.S. District Court at a later date.
According to the allegations, on the evening of Sept. 1, 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 American black bear near the reservation’s garbage dump.
According to the allegations in the information, on Sept. 2, Stimac posed for photographs with the bear’s carcass and later shared the photographs on Facebook. Because of the bear’s large size, Stimac was unable to move the bear from the reservation, and instead removed the bear’s head and paws and harvested a small portion of the meat. Stimac left the remainder of the carcass on the reservation.
The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians does not permit non-Indians to hunt bear, a clan animal, within the boundaries of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, due to the bear’s spiritual importance to the band.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Red Lake Department of Public Safety, the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with assistance from the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office.
Assistant United States attorneys Gina L. Allery and Emily A. Polachek are prosecuting the case.