Lake Butler man sentenced in illegal killing of black bears in Ocala National Forest

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A Lake Butler man charged with illegally killing Black Bears in the Ocala National Forest in 2018 was sentenced in Marion County.

William Tyler Wood, 32, of Lake Butler was sentenced to a year in jail and 10 years’ probation after pleading guilty to animal cruelty and bear-baiting violations


Wood was one of nine people who were arrested by Florida Fish and Wildlife officials on charges of conspiracy, animal cruelty and bear-baiting violations in several Florida counties on both private and public lands.

Wood pleaded guilty to five counts of felony cruelty to animals, one count each of conspiracy, using an animal to fight or bait another animal, felony littering, unlawful use of a two-way communications device and unlawful taking of a black bear.

Read: Here are the bare necessities to work as a Florida ‘bear response contractor’

According to FWC officials, Wood and his co-defendants lured black bears with dog food, doughnuts, pastries and peanut butter in several areas throughout Baker, Flagler, Marion and Union counties.

Investigators said the defendants then used packs of dogs to chase and maul the black bears.

Read: FWC offers Spring BearWise tips to reduce conflicts with bears

Officials said Wood and the others then recorded several of the attacks and posted the videos on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.