According to the U.S. Attorney's for the Western District of North Carolina, Bruce Wayne Cromer, Jr., 35, of Stovall, North Carolina, was sentenced late last week following his guilty plea to a single charge of unlawfully shooting and killing a bull elk in the park last November.
“Elk No. 21" had been introduced into the park in 2001 as part of a program by the National Park Service to return an elk population to the park. Rangers discovered the bull's carcass last Nov. 13 lying along the edge of a pasture in the Cataloochee area of the park. An investigation involving park rangers as well as agents from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission produced a vehicle description that lead them to a suspect. When a Park Service special agent met with the suspect the next day, he confessed, according to a park news release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell last Thursday sentenced Mr. Cromer to 150 days imprisonment. In addition, the man’s firearm, a Browning .270 caliber rifle autographed by Richard Petty, was ordered by the court to be forfeited to the government and he was ordered to pay $8,384 in restitution to the park.
Furthermore, Mr. Cromer had to surrender his hunting license for two years, and he was banned from all national parks for two years.
"We are very satisfied with this verdict and the penalty meted out," said park spokesman Bob Miller.