Barbour Co. bear poacher charged

Brian Michael Reel, age 31

BELINGTON— The West Virginia Natural Resources Police announced Thursday that the individual who was responsible for killing three bear cubs in Belington has been identified and charged, thanks to a tip from the public. 

A search warrant was executed at the Horizon Ridge Road residence of Brian Michael Reel in Barbour County after receiving the tip. The 31-year-old man has been charged with felony possession with intent to deliver marijuana and six misdemeanor counts of illegal taking of bear weighing under 75 pounds, according to the Barbour Co. Magistrate’s Office.

West Virginia Code states that it is illegal to shoot at or kill a bear weighing less than 75 pounds live weight, or 50 pounds field dressed weight after removal of all internal organs.  It is also unlawful to hunt a bear with a rifle using less than .25 caliber ammunition and Reel allegedly shot the three bear cubs with a .22 caliber rifle. 

The criminal complaint stated that Reel admitted to killing the three cubs, removing their hides to give to a third party and then discarded the carcasses. The defendant faces confinement in jail for not less than 10, nor more than 30 days upon conviction of each count, as well as a fine of $500-$1,000, which is not subject to suspension by the court.  The hunting and fishing license of a person convicted of these violations shall also be suspended for two years.

Reel remains jailed at Tygart Valley Regional Jail in lieu of $35,000 bond.

The WV Natural Resources Police would like to thank the public for their assistance in this case.

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