A Sunset man was issued citations after allegedly killing a black bear sow and its cub during a Nov. 27 hunt on Red River Wildlife Management Area. The man faces jail time and more than $20,000 in fines.

Gary Kinsland, 62, of Sunset, was issued citations for two counts of taking bear in a closed season after wildlife agents were called to the site by state biologists working at the WMA's check station as part of a managed deer hunt.

Kinsland was deer hunting and allegedly reported the incident himself, stating that he shot the bears after mistaking them for feral hogs.

Department of Wildlife & Fishieres biologist Maria Davidson said the female bear was one of 49 females moved onto the Red River/Three Rivers WMA complex and Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge during a relocation program between 2001 and 2009.

Davidson said the kill is a setback to the program, even though she said the population seems to be doing well.

"It's an issue for the project itself because this female represented a number of years of data collection," she said. "The longer you keep an animal on the air and monitored the more informaiton you're able to gain. It's definitely a loss to the project."

Another problem is the fact that the adult was a female.

"A adult female (bear) would be considered the more valuable member of the population," Davidson said. "We can have male bears coming in from another population, but we won't have female bears come in because they don't wander like the males do.

"Expanding a bear's range can be like moving a glacier - it happens over time."

She said the incident, although not unique, points to the need for hunters to verify targets.

"I'm aware that bears and hogs look alike," Davidson said. "They can look so similar, so it's important to remind hunters to look once, look twice and look a third time, and make sure you know what you're aiming at.

"You can't take a bullet back."

If convicted on the two counts, Kinsland faces fines totaling up to $950 per count or up to eight months in jail, or both, plus court costs and forfeiture of anything seized. Additionally, restitution to the department in the amount of $10,000 per bear will be sought, the agency reported.