Federal Judge Patrick J. Hanna sentenced Cory R. Ronsonet, 39, to three years of supervised probation, three years of no hunting privileges, a $3,000 fine and 300 hours of community service. If the fine is paid and community service completed within six weeks, then the probation will be reduced to unsupervised.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents initiated the investigation during the 2008-09 hunting season after receiving a public tip that a black bear had been shot then skinned and stored in a fashion to mount it in the future. Agents then found a black bear skin and its decapitated head on May 19, 2011 off of Daniel Lane near a subdivision in New Iberia.
During the investigation, Ronsonet admitted to LDWF Enforcement Division agents on May 31, 2011 of taking the black bear in question. Ronsonet pleaded guilty for violating the federal endangered species act for illegally taking a black bear in Federal Western District Court in Lafayette on Aug. 17.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joe Mickel and Howard Parker prosecuted the case. LDWF Senior Agent David Boudreaux was the lead investigator on the case and was assisted by Sgts. James Rhodes, Mitch Darby, Brian Theriot and Senior Agent Jason Romero. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Phillip Siragusa also assisted with the investigation.
The bear had been a part of LDWF's black bear program and was first tagged in 2000 when it was estimated to be six years old. The passive integrated transponder implanted during the initial capture was left in the hide when the bear was skinned and provided positive identification. LDWF had never received a nuisance call about this older male bear that lived mostly in the Weeks Island area of lower Iberia Parish.
The Louisiana black bear has been listed on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species List since 1992. Citizens are reminded that killing a Louisiana black bear is a violation of both state law and the federal Endangered Species Act.