ELK COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– A Saint Marys man is accused of illegally killing a bear and then trying to claim that his kid was the one that harvested it, according to the charges filed.
The time that Joseph Blessel, 46, bought a hunting license and indicated that the bear was harvested did not match up with when the bear was killed, investigators from the Pennsylvania Game Commission wrote in a criminal complaint.
It was on Saturday, Oct. 15 when a report came through about a bear being harvested by the juvenile in Elk County, the game commission said. Officials arrived at the spot of the animal at 11:10 a.m. and were able to investigate the dead bear.
According to the complaint, the harvested tag read that the bear was killed at 10:45 a.m. and the juvenile’s license has been purchased that morning at 7:31 a.m.
Investigators went to talk with Blessel after they discovered that the animal’s body temperature did not correlate with the time the license was purchased or the time of indicated harvest, according to the complaint. Due to the bear’s fat tissue, it can hold internal temperature for a long period of time, but the one Blessel said the juvenile killed was cold.
Blessel then admitted that he killed the bear before purchasing his son’s hunting license and that he was the one who harvested the animal, the complaint reads. He explained to the investigator that he used apples and corn to bait the bear and that he shot it with his crossbow.
In the Commonwealth, it is required that when a bear is harvested that it must be reviewed at a check station at least 24 hours after the animal is killed. During the check, a hunter must get his harvest tag verified to prove they used the proper tag.
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Blessel faces two taking/killing big game beyond daily/seasonal limits, hunting without a secure license, use of artificial/natural bait, and lend a license/kill tag, among other charges.
Blessel awaits a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 20.