Posing shirtless with what was believed to be a record-breaking black bear back in 2013, Shawn O’Connor’s illegal and unethical practices have finally caught up with him.

The Minnesota man was known to have been bragging about the bear he shot on September 7, 2013.  His boastful attitude landed him in featured publications around the state as word traveled quickly about the 600+ pound black bear.

While he stated he did try to keep the animal a secret, in addition to the local media, the bear also caught the attention of Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources.  Conservation officers with the department quickly realized they had opened a can of worms and the now infamous picture had spawned what would become a two-year investigation.

After acquiring the necessary warrants and executing them, O’Connor was subsequently charged with 47 misdemeanors and eight gross misdemeanors relating to hunting violations.  Some of the charges included transporting illegal game, failure to register game such as bobcat, marten, fisher, otter or wolf and unmarked game, to name a few.

Serving search warrants during the investigation yielded a plethora of wild game skulls, hides, pelts, and claws including the following:

  • 15 bear hides
  • 10 bear skulls
  • 27 deer heads
  • 15 bobcat pelts
  • 1 fisher pelt
  • 1 otter pelt
  • 1 mountain lion pelt
  • 1 elk hide

Of the 71 animals listed above and found in the possession of O’Connor, there were only 10 associated tags with the animals, one of which was registered to a woman for the 2014 season who admitted to not having hunted since 2013.

His disposition was held in March of this year where O’Connor plead guilty and was convicted on 10 of the original counts.  The remaining counts were dismissed in various plea bargain agreements, court documents revealed.

As far as the trophy-sized black bear, the investigation revealed that the animal was taken a quota bear hunting zone near the Cub Lake area of Minnesota.  While O’Connor was in possession of a tag for the hunt, it was only valid in a no-quote bear zone.

A pair of accomplices came forward during the investigation, admitting to helping O’Connor recover and gut the animal and after loading the animal into O’Connor’s truck learned that he did not have the proper licensing in place.

On March 13, O’Connor was convicted of two gross misdemeanor counts of gross over the limit of wild animals, one gross misdemeanor count of transporting illegal big game, three misdemeanor counts of storage of protected wild animals – failure to plainly mark packaging, four misdemeanor counts of failure to register pelts of bobcat, marten, fisher, otter or wolf.  He was ordered to pay $10,861 in fees and restitution and has been sentenced to a 90-day jail term and one year of supervised probation.



H/T: Mille Lacs Messenger