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November 14, 2015

N.J. hunter admits staging scene of illegal black bear kill

Man violates Lacey Act by transporting trophy hunt across state lines

Courts Hunting
01222015_bear_maine_AP Robert F. Bukaty, File/AP

A black bear in captivity waits for visitors to throw food into his pen at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine.

A New Jersey hunter has come clean about illegally killing an American black bear out of state hunting season and staging a "kill site" in New York in an attempt to deceive officials.

According to federal prosecutors, 36-year-old Martin Kaszycki, of Ringwood, violated the Lacey Act when he transported the bear he illegally killed in Newfoundland, New Jersey, to Sterling State Forest in New York.

Court documents note that on October 5, 2012, Kaszycki baited and killed the 450-pound black bear from an elevated tree stand using a bow and arrow. He then drove the bear to a New York weigh station and told an employee that he killed the bear in New York. The employee, unaware of the lie, created a false Bear Data Form.

Three days later, Kaszycki drove the bear's skull and hide to a taxidermist in Pennsylvania to get the parts mounted on a trophy display. On October 10, New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Officers confronted Kaszycki about the bear. At night, he drove the animal's guts to Sterling State Forest and staged the kill site.

The police went to the staged site the following day, leading to the three-year legal dispute that ended in Kaszycki fessing to the crime. The Lacey Act outlaws interstate transport of wildlife taken in violation of state laws and the creation of false records. The manner in which the bear was hunted violated New Jersey laws prohibiting from elevated standing trees, within 300 feet of a baited area and with a bow and arrow.

Kaszycki's plea agreement requires him to forfeit the skull and hide and pay a $5,000 fine to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lacey Act Reward Fund. He may also face a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. He was released from prison on unsecured $10,000 bond and was forced to surrender his hunting license pending a sentencing hearing on February 17, 2016.