Suspected Bear Poachers Face Charges in El Dorado County Court

Media Contact: Warden Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

Two men arrested on suspicion of unlawfully killing bear and possession of bear parts for sale are scheduled to be arraigned in El Dorado County Superior Court on June 4.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers arrested Peter George Vitali, of Pioneer, and Arthur Martin Blake, of River Pines, in the Eldorado National Forest on April 20 after finding them in possession of 20 large bear claws and three bear gall bladders.

At the time of their arrest, bear season was closed in California. Evidence developed during the investigation suggested the suspects recently killed three bears, likely a sow and two cubs. The investigation determined that the claws, liver and gall bladder were removed from the sow and only the liver and gall bladder were removed from the other two bears.

The bile contained inside bear gall bladders is believed by some to have medicinal properties and is sold on the black market. Bear claws and other bear parts are also unlawfully sold in California. Under California Fish and Game laws, it is a felony offense to sell, purchase or possess for sale any bear part. Under California law, possession of more than one bear gall bladder is prima facie evidence that the bear gall bladders are possessed for sale.