Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Madison Park’s alleged bear poacher is finally charged

Dr. Tohru Shigemura, a Japanese psychiatrist and part-time resident of Madison Park, has been charged by King County prosecutors with firearms violations and with illegally hunting bears in Washington State. So says the Seattle PI in a posting on its website this afternoon. As we reported last summer, officers of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife raided a waterfront condo in Madison Park in early June, discovering evidence of bear poaching and a cache of firearms. Shigemura has now been identified in charging documents as the condo resident.

According to news reports, it is alleged that Shegemura killed the bears in order to sell their gallbladders, which are used in traditional Asian medicine and are quite valuable. Shigemura, who reportedly has a history of wildlife crimes, has not been jailed.

The PI has an interesting synopsis of court documents detailing how investigators came to suspect Shigemura and how they followed his trail for more than a year before finally making their move. The full story is available here.

[The bear poacher story was originally broken in The Stranger by Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, who now writes for The Humane Society of the United States has an informative article on why bears are more valuable dead than alive here. Grizzly/Brown bear illustration courtesy of the ICWDM.]

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