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Lincoln County man sentenced, fined for killing grizzly bear, tampering with evidence

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Posted at 2:28 PM, Jun 11, 2024

MISSOULA — A Lincoln County man was sentenced to prison on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, after admitting to killing a grizzly bear.

Othel Lee Pearson, 80, pleaded guilty in February to felony tampering with evidence as well as failing to report the take on grizzly bear, a misdemeanor.

Pearson — who is from the Troy area — was accused of killing the grizzly bear on his property in 2020, not reporting the shooting as required and then tossing the animal's GPS collar in the Yaak River.

U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich stated in a news release that Pearson was sentenced to two months in prison and fined $10,000. Pearson was also ordered to serve four months of home confinement following his incarceration, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

According to a news release, Pearson was also ordered to forfeit a .270 Winchester bolt-action rifle with a scope that he used to kill the grizzly bear and was seized from his residence.

Prosecutors stated in amended court documents that on Nov. 19, 2020, Pearson shot and killed a sow grizzly bear on his residential property, using a .270 rifle. Pearson cut a GPS collar that had been fitted to the bear and discarded the collar nearby in the Yaak River.

Pearson also cut paws, ear tags and an identifying lip tattoo from the bear carcass. Pearson then concealed the bear’s claws and an ear tag on U.S. Forest Service near his home.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided over the sentencing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation.