Man charged for killing black bear

Published 12:54 am Saturday, December 10, 2016

Matthew Gage Stewart, 22, of Talladega, Ala., has been arrested and charged with killing a black bear on the Talladega National Forest in Clay County. Stewart killed the bear with a crossbow while hunting earlier this fall. He is scheduled to appear in Clay County District Court on Feb. 7, 2017.
The 315-pound male black bear killed by Stewart made headlines in June when it was captured in Opelika, tagged by Auburn University researchers and released on the Tuskegee National Forest in Macon County. Throughout the summer the bear roamed north and was seen several times near Alexander City.
While classified as a game animal in Alabama, there is no established black bear hunting season in the state. Black bears are also protected by state law due to low population numbers.
Capt. Johnny Johnson, Supervising Conservation Enforcement Officer with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) District 2 Office, said anyone shooting at or killing a black bear risks serious consequences.
“Hopefully this arrest will send a message and deter future violations related to our sparse black bear population,” Johnson said. “If you see a black bear, leave it alone. We want them in Alabama.”
Historically, a small population of black bear has remained rooted in southwest Alabama, primarily in Mobile and Washington counties.
The public is encouraged to report black bear sightings online at Black bear sightings can also be reported to WFF district wildlife offices, or by email to Thomas Harms at