Landowner Arrested for Impeding a Hunt

In April 2021 Eddie Fletcher heard the loud barking of hounds close to his house on his wooded property in Greenbrier County. Fletcher quickly ran to the sound. Four snarling hounds were tearing on a bear cub. Fletcher tied up two of the hounds, using his belt and a shoe string, and getting dog-bit in the process. The cub scooted up an adjacent tree. Fletcher went to his house, called 9-1-1 to call the police, then secured the hounds on by his porch with drinking water.

When the hunter appeared to retrieve his radio-collared hounds, he cell-phoned a game warden to accuse Fletcher of illegally impeding a hunt. The game warden showed up and issued Fletcher a citation for unlawfully impeding a hunt. Fletcher countered that if he had not intervened, the dogs would certainly have ripped the cub to death.  

During the subsequent hearing, attended by the arresting officer and accusing hunter, the prosecution made clear that indeed Fletcher had broken the law. His 80-acre property was not posted. He had illegally tied up the hounds. Fletcher, an experienced outdoorsman and hunter himself, felt so strongly that training hounds in the spring was wrong that he was willing to be jailed rather than pay a fine. Impeding a hunt is a misdemeanor with a fine of $100 to $500 and/or imprisonment for 10 to 100 days. As it turned out, the case was dismissed on technical grounds.

Fletcher says there were two other incidents later that spring where cubs were treed on his property, separated from its mother during a spring hound chase.  Cubs will loudly bawl for their mother for two or three days, either to be retrieved by mamma or to come down due to hunger. Last year, a cub stopped crying after a couple of days. Fletcher heard coyotes nearby.