DULUTH — The 40-year old Brainerd man charged in federal court recently with killing a 700-pound black bear near a garbage dump on the Red Lake Reservation, where non-tribal members are not allowed to hunt, and with leaving most of the animal to rot in the woods, is also a convicted felon.
Brett James Stimac will make his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois in U.S. District Court in Duluth at a future date. A photo of Stimac with the massive bear, one of the largest ever reported in Minnesota, circulated on social media in September as he bragged about killing the bear. But prosecutors paint a much different story.
According to the allegations, on the evening of Sept. 1, Stimac, who is not an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, knowingly and without authorization, entered the Red Lake Indian Reservation for the purposes of hunting a bear. Using a compound bow, Stimac shot and killed the bear near the reservation’s garbage dump.
Because of the bear’s large size, Stimac was unable to move the bear from the reservation, and instead removed the bear’s head and paws and harvested a small portion of the meat. Stimac left the remainder of the carcass on the reservation, the charges claim.
The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians does not allow non-Indians to hunt bear, a clan animal, within the reservation, due to the bear’s spiritual importance to the band. On Sept. 16, law enforcement seized the bear’s head from a taxidermist, where Stimac had taken it. Officers also recovered bear meat from Stimac’s house.
A Duluth News Tribune records search found Stimac has a long criminal history in Minnesota, including convictions for criminal damage to property (2014) felon in possession of a firearm (2011); receiving stolen property (2009); illegal transportation of big game (2008); second-degree felony assault with a dangerous weapon (2008); receiving stolen property (2000); and disorderly conduct (1999.)