WILTON, Conn. — Many in Wilton are expressing outrage after two black bears were shot to death by an unlicensed bow-and-arrow hunter in the woods off Indian Rock Place on Saturday.
Wilton resident Marguerite Tucker O'Connor plans to hold a protest at the Norwalk courthouse Sept. 28 when the two men charged in the bears' death are due to be arraigned.
"I have been in contact with the Norwalk mayor's office regarding the illegal bear poaching incident which took place over the weekend here in Wilton," she wrote on the Wilton 412 group's page on Facebook. "They gave me the go-ahead to fill out the application for the (peaceful) protest. ... Once I have obtained all necessary signatures I will submit the application and we should not have a problem getting the permit in time."
Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said it "is an unusual case" and confirmed that the bears were killed with a hunting bow. Connecticut does not allow bear hunting.
The man who shot the two bears does not have a valid 2017 hunting license or archery permit, he said.
Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said everyone in town government "shares the public's outrage and concern about the poaching of two bears within Wilton."
Archery season for deer and wild turkeys opened Friday in the state. Private property owners are able to hire or allow hunters on their property to cull the deer herds.
"The two individuals are poachers, not hunters," Vanderslice said. "They are not participants in the town's annual controlled deer hunt, which began on September 15th.
"Invited hunters are well experienced, safety-oriented and have completed, at a minimum, all the appropriate state certifications courses and passed a CT background check performed by WPD," she said. "The hunt is held for numerous reasons, including to reduce the spread of Lyme disease and its crippling effects, to reduce motor vehicle accidents and to protect the ecology of the area."
State Environmental Conservation Police received an anonymous tip Saturday that an archery hunter had illegally shot and killed two black bears on private property in Wilton.
The officers found Antonio Lio, 28, of Wilton carrying a bear skin, head and paws in a backpack as he walked out of the woods on Indian Rock Place, EnCon police said. Daniel Moran, 33, of Norwalk, was with him, EnCon police said.
Lio told officers that he shot the first bear as it walked under his tree stand before shooting and killing a second bear that approached him as he checked the first bear, EnCon police said.
He then texted Moran for help in retrieving the bears, EnCon police said.
According to police, the two then skinned the first bear, cutting off its paws and head for a trophy mount.
Lio did not have a valid 2017 hunting license or archery permit, EnCon police said.
Both men were arrested. Lio was charged with two counts of illegal taking of black bear and fourth-degree negligent hunting. He was released on $5,000 bond.
Moran was charged with conspiracy to commit the illegal taking of black bear. He was released on $3,000 bond.
In the past 52 weeks, 17 bear sightings have been reported. In June, a bear was spotted on the Norwalk Valley River Trail.
For more information on bears in Connecticut and to report a sighting, click here .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.