Pennsylvania Game News - January 2011 - 29
loaded a dart gun to immobilize the bear, so we could get a better look at its injury, and told me to start backtracking the bear’s path. We were both thinking the bear most likely had been hit by a car. But the closest main road was a half mile away, and it seemed nearly impossible for a bear with this injury to go that far. I started tracking the bear’s drag marks back down into a small hollow, following a small stream. Soon I came upon a set of fresh boot tracks. I pulled out my newly issued digital camera and started taking pictures. As I followed the drag marks I could see the boot tracks were made on top of the snow packed down from the bear’s weight, indicating someone had followed this bear after it had been injured. I quickly came upon the area where the bear had been shot. There was a large amount of blood and hair beside a fallen tree. I made my way up the bank of the stream, following the footprints to a spot along the road where I could tell a vehicle had been parked. From there I walked down to Officer Remensyder, to tell him what I had discovered and to find out what he’d learned about the bear’s injuries. Officer Remensnyder informed me that the bear had been shot in the spine and its back legs were paralyzed, and that it would have to be put down. We started interviewing some of the local residents, and several told us about a dark Jeep with right front end damage that had been parked for much of the week along the road where I’d followed the footprints. Both Dirk and I remembered seeing the vehicle parked there during our routine patrols of the area. Unfortunately, neither of us could remember the exact color of the vehicle, nor had we recorded its plate number. After putting the bear down, we loaded it up and proceeded to a local butcher that Dirk knew, to help us locate the bullet. The butcher was happy to help. Even though it was his busy season, he stopped what he was doing to start skinning the bear. AlJANUARY 2011
most instantly we recovered the bullet, and it was in near perfect condition. It would be easy to match to a firearm if needed. The next morning we began visiting body shops, to see if anyone had received estimates for repairs on a Jeep, but we had no luck. Next we visited Dick Donahoe, a retired Game Protector living in the district, to run what we had by him. Dick wasn’t home, but his wife was. We gave her the information and she said she would pass it on. A few days later Dick called to say he had been on his way into town when he passed a dark blue Jeep with front end damage. He followed it for a while and noted that it was being driven by a young male. He gave us the plate number, which we traced to an address not far from Smith Road. We decided to visit the residence. While on the way, we met up with State Trooper Ty Brininger, and he agreed to go along to help out. As we pulled in the driveway, we saw the Jeep, and as I exited our vehicle I saw hunting gear in the back of the Jeep. Things seemed to be lining up. We knocked on the door and a girl in her late teens, Mary Slaughter, answered. We explained who we were and asked if anyone in the household had been hunting on Smith Road during deer season. Mary said that she, her boyfriend and some friends had hunted in that area. We then asked if anyone had shot anything, and she said no. She also seemed to be getting more and more nervous as the conversation continued. Even as a new officer, I could tell she was not telling us the whole truth. WCO Remensnyder asked to see her hunting shoes. She went into the house and brought out a pair of shoes that resembled more of a dress shoe than a hunting boot.