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A Utah hunting guide is facing a felony charge for allegedly illegally baiting a bear shot and killed by Donald Trump Jr. while the former president’s eldest son enjoyed a cabin weekend with friends in 2018.
Wade Cox Lemon, 61, of Millard County, Utah, is facing a third-degree felony count of wanton destruction of protected wildlife. The charge was filed on behalf of the Utah Attorney General’s Office through the Davis County Attorney’s Office, FOX 13 Salt Lake City reported Sunday.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Lemon could face five years in prison if convicted even though he was not the one to pull the trigger. A recent filing does not name Trump Jr., though the Utah Department of Natural Resources confirmed to the newspaper that the now 44-year-old Trump was the “client” listed in the criminal complaint against Lemon.
Without referring to Trump Jr. by name, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings told the Tribune that the hunter involved in this incident “was actually a victim and a now a possible witness in a fraudulent scheme to lead the hunter to believe it was actually a legitimate Wild West hunting situation.”
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The charging document alleges Lemon “personally guided a client on a successful bear hunt” in Carbon County on May 18, 2018, and an unnamed “concerned witness” contacted the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources when the hunting party left upon allegedly observing “a pile of grain, oil, and pastries” nearby.
Wildlife agents who responded to the scene found the half-eaten bait in front of a trail camera with Lemon’s initials and phone number listed on the recording device.
Prosecutors said the witness also reported seeing dogs with the hunting party, and agents found loose straw, normally used to line the cages of hunting dogs during transport, on a nearby road.
“The end of the hunt is recorded showing the bear surrounded by a pack of hunting dogs before the client shoots and kills the animal,” the charging document says. “Utah law forbids luring bears to a bait station and then pursuing the animal with dogs.”
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Utah Code 23-20-3 states that it’s against the law to “possess or use bait or other attractant to take protected wildlife which is prohibited in this title or a rule, proclamation, or order of the Wildlife Board.”