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Utah Hunting Guide Charged With Felony For 'Baiting' Bear That Don Jr. Hunted Down And Killed In 2018

Utah Hunting Guide Charged With Felony For 'Baiting' Bear That Don Jr. Hunted Down And Killed In 2018

A Utah hunting guide is facing felony charges for laying illegal bait for a bear that Donald Trump Jr. shot and killed on a big game hunt in 2018.

The Salt Lake Tribunereported that hunting guide Wade Lemon was charged in Davis County last week, mere days before the statute of limitations expired. He faces a potential five-year prison sentence.

Charging documents allege that Lemon, who is 61, "personally guided a client on a successful bear hunt" in Carbon County on May 18, 2018.

The documents say that a "concerned witness" contacted authorities after spotting "a pile of grain, oil, and pastries" in the area after the hunting party had left. The witness said they noticed the party had hunting dogs with them.

Agents with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DNR) confirmed that there was half-eaten bait in front of a trail camera sporting Lemon's phone number and initials. Additionally, the agents confirmed there was straw, which is often used to line the cages of hunting dogs, on a nearby road.

According to prosecutors:

"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."
"Utah law forbids luring bears to a bait station and then pursuing the animal with dogs."

Lemon's sub-guides told investigators that they knew the bear was baited to the area where it was ultimately killed, and one in particular said Lemon told him to "get stuff out there" just two weeks before the scheduled hunt.

The Utah Investigative Journalism Project and The Salt Lake Tribune were able to confirm that Trump Jr. was the client on the hunt that day despite the fact that the charging documents do not list Trump Jr. as the client.

The Tribune confirmed that Trump Jr. killed two animals–the bear on May 18, 2018 and a cougar on May 19–and noted that Lemon had posted photos with Trump Jr. on May 21, 2018.

In his Facebook post, Lemon, through his company Wade Lemon Hunting, brags that he and Trump are joining forces to launch "Hunter Nation," a conservative organization with aims to "educate the public regarding hunting, wildlife, and habitat."

Trump Jr. also boasted about the trip on Instagram, saying that he'd had a "great weekend in Utah with friends outdoors."

The Tribune reported that Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings referred to the then-unidentified Trump Jr. in the charging documents as "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."

However, the newspaper notes in its report that DNR confirmed that "the well-known guide, didn’t pull the trigger — Donald Trump Jr. did."

The news quickly went viral and both Lemon and Trump Jr. have been heavily criticized.

Trump Jr. has courted controversy for big-game hunting expeditions before.

In 2016, during their father's presidential campaign, Trump Jr. and his brother, Eric Trump, were heavily criticized after pictures emerged of the animals they’d killed on safari.

The two men posed for photos with a slain civet as well as an elephant and a leopard that they had killed.

In 2019, Trump Jr. made headlines again, this time for traveling to Western Mongolia and shooting and killing an argali, an animal that has the distinction of being the largest sheep in the world while also holding a place on the endangered species list.

Trump Jr.'s trip to Mongolia racked up $76,859.36 in Secret Service fees, which is $60,000 more than the Trump administration had previously disclosed.