People abused bears and posted videos on social media, Florida officials say

Group accused of luring animals with food, attacking them using packs of dogs

By Tim Swift - Digital Editor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Nine people have been arrested after prosecutors said they baited and abused black bears in several counties in northern Florida, authorities said.

"Not only were these gruesome acts of violence repulsive and cruel, they were recorded and posted to social media for the amusement of the defendants," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement Wednesday. "I doubt they are laughing any longer now that they have been arrested for serious crimes."

Prosecutors said the group placed dog food, doughnuts and other food in drums to attract the bears. Once the bears arrived to eat the food, the group would set packs of dogs on the bears. The social media videos showed the dogs mauling the bears. Other videos showed bears climbing trees to escape the dogs.

The group made no attempt to stop the dogs, prosecutors said.

Some of the bears were killed in the attacks.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the group used the videos to promote their dog breeding business. The group promoted the dogs as "beardogs" online. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began a yearlong investigation after agents found several bears dead in Union County. Prosecutors said the men also abused bears in Baker, Flagler and Marion counties.

"There is no place in Florida for these heinous acts,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton.  

The men and women face a number of charges, including animal cruelty and animal fighting or baiting.

The people were identified as Christopher Elliot Haun, 42, William Landrum, 39, Mark Lindsey, 26, Dustin Reddish, 25, Haley Reddish, 25, Charles Luther Scarbrough III, 30, Hannah Weiner Scarbrough, 27, Troy Travis Starling, 45, and William Tyler Wood, 29.

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