PARSONS – A Harrison County woman pleaded guilty and was fined $1,000 in Tucker County Magistrate Court Thursday on one count of taking a bear out of season. A charge of illegal possession of wildlife was also dropped against Catherine Dean McIntire, 54, of Shinnston during that hearing.
Charges in the case stem from June 5, when McIntire was driving to her grandson’s baseball game and saw the bear cub along the road. Officials said McIntire picked up the bear in her car and took it to the baseball field because she didn’t want it to get hit by a car.
Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora said when McIntire had the bear in her vehicle, she passed by the city, state and county police offices, where she could have turned over the bear to officials – instead she transported the bear to a baseball game.
“When Sheriff Brian Wilfong and DNR Law Enforcement Officer Terry Fluharty went to take the bear into custody, both were bitten by the bear,” LaMora said. “Consequently, the bear cub was put down to test for rabies. The sample comes from the brain stem and the only way to obtain that sample is euthanizing the bear cub.”
Tucker County Magistrate Riley Barb asked Fluharty why he agreed for the charge of illegal possession of wildlife charge to be dropped.
“My main concern was, when picking wild animals up, they can be diseased,” Fluharty said. “This whole thing could have gone south real quick. After talking with her (Catherine McIntire’s) attorney, he said she did understand the problems that could have resulted from this. That was my main concern.”
Barb asked McIntire if she had anything to say to the court before sentencing.
“I thought I was doing the right thing at the time,” McIntire said.
Barb said he thought the whole situation surrounding the event was “kind of out there.”
“You threw the thing (the bear cub) in the back of your car and then you went to a ballgame,” Barb said. “You left the bear cub your car – and I know you said you thought that was the right thing to do at the time. But ignorance is no excuse.”
Barb said a lot of bad things could have happened in the incident.
“I understand all that now,” McIntire said.
Barb told McIntire she would have to pay the $1,000 fine and court costs of $165.25.
“I understand that is a lot of money, but it just goes to show the severity of the charge,” Barb said. “You will also owe for your court appointed attorney since you plead guilty. I am not sure exactly what that cost is, but we will notify you.”