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Florida black bear abuse uncovered and 9 suspects arrested, Florida Attorney General says

Posted at 4:03 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 16:05:51-05

WARNING: Some might find the attached video disturbing

TAMPA-- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi have announced several arrests in a disturbing case of animal abuse.

They held a news conference at Zoo Tampa Lowry Park Wednesday to reveal details about the investigation.

The arrests come after a long-term investigation into illegal baiting and abuse of Florida black bears.

Bondi said the suspects would scour donut shop dumpsters after hours, gather discarded donuts as bait for the bears, and then release dozens of hunting dogs to attack.

She then showed truly disturbing video evidence which she said the defendants recorded and posted to social media for their own amusement.

Bondi called it one of the most horrific wildlife abuses she has ever seen in her almost 30-year career as a prosecutor.

"They (the suspects) clearly were not scared of the bears. Because they were chasing the bears up the tree to get them to fall so the dogs, who were trained to attack, could attack. And also, some of these dogs, we have videos, did not want to attack the bears. They did not. They were taking them off the leash, that's what it was all about. And laughing about it. Just sick pleasure," Bondi said.

53 dogs have been seized and nine people face charges.

Law enforcement officials arrested the following individuals in connection to the crimes, according to the Attorney General: Christopher Elliot Haun, 42, Ormond Beach, Fla. William Landrum, 39, Millboro, Va. Mark Lindsey, 26, Moultrie, Ga. Dustin Reddish, 25, Lake Butler, Fla. Haley Reddish, 25, Lake Butler, Fla. Charles Luther Scarbrough III, 30, Callahan, Fla. Hannah Weiner Scarbrough, 27, Callahan, Fla. Troy Travis Starling, 45, Lake Butler, Fla. William Tyler Wood, 29, Lake Butler, Fla.

The suspects face various charges including animal cruelty, animal fighting or baiting, conspiracy to commit racketeering, littering, unlawful taking of black bears, and the unlawful use of a two-way communication device.