In 2008, Dr. Walter Palmer, who caused an uproar worldwide for the killing of Cecil the lion, the favorite feline at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, made false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cover up the truth about a bear he shot illegally in Wisconsin in September 2006.
He also allegedly attempted to bribe guides with $20,000 to lie about the fact that he shot and killed the bear outside an authorized hunting zone, according to ABC News.
Court documents reportedly reveal that in 2006, Palmer shot and killed a black bear with a bow and arrow in northern Wisconsin outside the area where he had a permit to hunt. He then tried to cover-up the evidence by lying to federal prosecutors about the place where he killed the bear.
U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil, who was involved in the case, told ABC News that after Palmer killed the bear, he moved the carcass across state lines to conceal the fact that he had killed the bear in an area he was not authorized to hunt.
“As soon as the bear was killed, Palmer and the three guys he was with – guides – they agreed they would lie about it.
“He was lying to us. He was offering to pay, it turns out, about $20,000 to keep the others who were in the hunt, to have them lie, so that’s a fairly aggressive cover-up.”
Palmer then allegedly made a false statement about the incident to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during an investigation of the case in 2008.
But the truth about what happened came out when the guards he tried to bribe told the truth about what happened. But he was able to avoid a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 through a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to felony charges of making false statements to the authorities and got away with paying a fine of only $3,000.
He was also sentenced to a year of probation.
Photos obtained by ABC News through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show Palmer the “lion killer” posing with the black bear he shot.
ABC News also reports that earlier in 2003, he ran into trouble with the Otter Tail County authorities in Minnesota for fishing without a license.
He achieved international infamy about a decade later when he admitted publicly that he was responsible for the killing of the black-maned 13-year-old lion Cecil, a favorite among visitors to the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
He reportedly paid Theo Bronkhorst, a safari guide, about $50,000 to hunt and kill a lion at the national park, but the guide took him to a farmland outside the park where he killed Cecil.
The Zimbabwean authorities have arrested Bronkhorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, owner of the farmland where Cecil was killed. The two are currently facing criminal charges over the killing of Cecil. The authorities in Zimbabwe are reportedly also trying to extradite Palmer to face charges for hunting outside an authorized zone.
Although Palmer admitted publicly that he was responsible for the killing of the lion, he claimed he was not aware of Cecil’s identity.
“I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
Bronkhorst admitted to the Telegraph that he took Palmer to hunt in an area outside the Hwange National Park.
Palmer reportedly shot Cecil with a bow arrow, and after several hours of stalking the wounded animal, finished him off with his rifle. He then beheaded the animal and kept the head as a trophy.
Palmer has tried to maintain a low profile as outrage mounted and animal rights campaigners raised a furor over the incident. He closed his dentist office and hired personal guards for his safety. His home in Florida has been vandalized.
While he tried to stay out of sight, reports began emerging in the media about the scope of his big game hunting activity in the years before he killed Cecil. Photos showing him posing with an alarming array of animals he killed emerged in the media.
The photos show him posing with a moose, deer, buffalo, and a mountain lion. In one remarkable photo, he posed with a dead polar bear.
Some media outlets also published photos showing his hunting lodge. Animal lovers were horrified to see the heads of rare animals from all over the world displayed as trophies.
[Images: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Walter Palmer via Express]