A Bigfork man convicted of killing three grizzly bears near his home in 2014 was sentenced in federal court to three years probation and fined $15,000.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch sentenced Dan Calvert Wallen on May 26 in Missoula. Wallen was also ordered to serve 60 days of his sentence in a pre-release center.
The imposition of sentencing was postponed pending appeal by Wallen’s attorney.
Federal prosecutors charged Wallen in U.S. District Court with three counts of unlawfully killing a threatened species. Grizzlies are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Each count carries a potential penalty of six months in jail and a $25,000 fine.
According to Brian Lakes, special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who investigated the incidents, Wallen shot the three bears after they consistently approached and entered a chicken coop at his residence.
Wallen told investigators that he tried to drive the bears off in his truck twice but they returned to the coop near his home. Wallen said he used his .22 rifle to shoot at the bears. He also said he knew the bears were grizzlies when he shot them, but he provided a different account of the events in his testimony during a bench trial.
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