On Saturday, July 9, Michael and Stephanie Munson, owners of Mammoth Pet Shop, came across a grisly sight off of Hot Creek Hatchery Road—they encountered a bear which was skinned, beheaded, with its paws were removed. There was a string of fish next to the carcass. “I was walking with my two-year-old son, and it just made me wonder,” Michael Munson told The Sheet.
Michael decided to make a post in the Facebook group Mammoth Buy, Sell Trade, indicating that a bear had been poached, hoping that another community member would report an unexplained bear pelt hanging out on a neighbor’s porch to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) or Mammoth Lakes Police Department (MLPD). Vicious comments ensued, including one along the lines of, “I hope whoever did this meets a similar fate.” After contacting a representative of CDFW, Michael removed the post.
Out of the outrage emerged a July 9 Facebook post from the Mammoth Lakes Police Department, that read, “After speaking to our Fish and Wildlife Warden, here’s what we’ve learned: The bear was euthanized, after suffering a severe injury. The hide, head, and paws were taking for research and educational purposes… Rather than letting the meat go to waste, it was left for a pack of coyotes that reside in that area.” The post concluded that the incident was under investigation by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
Munson told The Sheet that local CDFW Warden Todd Estrada told him he had euthanized the bear after he encountered it mortally wounded from a collision with a vehicle. Estrada told Munson that, instead of incinerating the carcass or putting it in the dump, he opted to relocate it to a remote location. Estrada told Munson he knew the carcass would be consumed by a pack of coyotes that frequents the area. Munson said Estrada told him the string of trout was confiscated from a group of fishermen who had surpassed the legal take limit. “He told me straight up that he didn’t think anyone went out there at all,” said Munson. Munson keeps a hive of bees in the area.