KNOXVILLE — Two Tellico Plains men were found guilty of baiting bears inside Cherokee National Forest, the U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of Tennessee, said Thursday.

Keith Bernard McJunkin, 59, and Levi Zachary Wilson, 31, both of Tellico Plains, were found guilty Sept. 4 by Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton of baiting bears inside Cherokee National Forest.

Each defendant was sentenced to two years of probation and banned from hunting anywhere or entering any national forest for a period of two years. McJunkin was also ordered to pay $1,600 in fines, and Wilson was ordered to pay $1,100 in fines.

The two men were among a group of hunters from Tellico Plains who baited and trapped bears inside the Cherokee National Forest in July and August of 2018. Terry Worth McJunkin, 37, Joseph Don Taylor, 38, and Derrick F. Cathey, 32, each previously pleaded guilty to hunting bear over bait.

Terry McJunkin was sentenced to five years of probation with a five-year hunting ban and five-year national forest ban and ordered to pay $4,000 in fines. Taylor and Cathey were each sentenced to two years of probation with a one-year hunting ban and one-year national forest ban. Taylor was also ordered to pay $3,000 in fines and $250 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service. Cathey was ordered to pay $250 in fines.

The investigation of the illegal bear poaching was jointly conducted by officers from the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

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