An Eatonville man has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of bear baiting in Central Washington to ensure prosecutors drop similar charges against his family and friends.
Okanogan County prosecutors said James Erickson, 52, had a cabin outside of Winthrop and often set a chair on the porch so hunters didn’t even have to get up as they trapped black bears with sugary treats such as doughnuts.
He initially was charged with 40 related counts, but many of the charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. Erickson was sentenced to 180 days in jail but will serve six.
After wildlife authorities served a search warrant at the cabin, they uncovered surveillance images that served as evidence against Erickson. Many depicted him posing with dead bears or setting out bait.
Bear baiting has been illegal in Washington since 1996.stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com