Black Bear Delicacies Result in Fine

Montana restaurant owners plead guilty.

Bear paws are considered gourmet delicacies by some people. (Jupiterimages/Thinkstock)
Photo: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

A married couple that owns a restaurant in Helena, Montana, plead guilty Monday to 13 wildlife charges involving the unlawful purchase and distribution of black bear parts.

David Hong, 57, and his wife Heng Huang, 52, had solicited undercover agents three times during the past year to buy two blacks bears, three bear gallbladders, and a five-gallon bucket of 12 bear paws, which they kept in the restaurant.

Hong and Huang came to the attention of a game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks after a concerned citizen overhead the couple asking customers in the restaurant whether they were hunters and would sell them bear gallbladders. Huang's attorney, Michael Kakuk, said in court that they wanted the gallbladders for medicinal use. They did not explain the bear paws.

"Our concern was whether this was bigger than just what we were seeing," Sergeant Dave Loewen, a game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the Independent Record. "That’s why we got so deep on this one. We were concerned they were shipping these out of state, but we didn’t find that with this."

The couple will be fined $4,980, down from the judge's original ruling of $9,600, insofar as they stay out of trouble. They are prohibited from hunting for the next six years.

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