Brainerd man charged with shooting, killing bear in Red Lake

Published 8:14 pm Friday, December 6, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — A Brainerd man was charged Friday with federal misdemeanor counts of wildlife trafficking and trespassing on Indian lands after he allegedly shot and killed a bear on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, sawed off the bear’s head, and left most of the carcass behind.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Brett Stimac, 40, knowingly and willfully entered the reservation without permission on Sept. 1 to hunt a bear. Prosecutors said he used a compound bow to kill a large American black bear near the reservation’s garbage dump.

According to the charges, he returned to the reservation the next day with his girlfriend and posed for photos with the bear’s carcass. He posted the photos on Facebook, along with a post claiming the bear was more than 700 pounds.

Because of the bear’s size, Stimac could not move the bear from the reservation. He went back to the reservation on Sept. 3 and tried to remove the bear’s hide. When he couldn’t do that, he used a saw to remove the bear’s head and paws and harvested about 71 pounds (32.21 kilograms) of meat. He left the rest of the carcass and at least one paw behind, the charges said.

The bear is a clan animal for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, and the band does not permit non-Indians to hunt bear within the reservation’s boundaries due to the bear’s spiritual importance.

A working number for Stimac was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment. He will make his initial appearance at a later date and it was not immediately clear if he has an attorney.

Stimac has several past convictions related to hunting violations, dating back to 1998. Records in state court show convictions for illegally transporting big game, deer hunting with bait and hunting or fishing without a proper license.