Clayton Stoner: NHL Player Faces Charges For Killing, Beheading Popular Grizzly Bear

Clayton Stoner is in hot water after police in Canada say the NHL player illegally killed and beheaded a popular grizzly bear.

The Anaheim Ducks defenseman is facing five charges under the Wildlife Act related to a 2013 trophy hunt in British Columbia in which he allegedly killed a large male grizzly bear. Stoner reportedly lied in obtaining the license and then hunted the grizzly out of season and without a license.

The five-year-old bear allegedly killed by Clayton Stoner was known as Cheeky and was popular among locals. Some are even comparing his killing to the illegal trophy hunting of the 14-year-old African lion known as Cecil by an American dentist.

Stoner’s NHL career plays a big role in the case. He is accused of claiming to be a “native resident” of British Columbia, but at the time was playing for the Minnesota Wild and did not meet living requirements.

“All five charges are directly related to the residency requirement,” Detective-Sergeant Cynthia Mann of the Conservation Officer Service’s major investigation unit told the Vancouver Sun.

The hunt itself is generating controversy, including Stoner’s treatment of the animal. After the grizzly bear was killed, Stoner reportedly cut off its head, a practice that has generated controversy among the Coastal First Nations.

Aboriginal people said the popular grizzly bear was skinned and then left to rot in a field, with its head and paws carried past a sign that declared trophy hunting illegal (though the Canadian government does not recognize the First Nations ban on the practice).

“The hunt is part and parcel of a very bloody, horrific, painful experience for the bears,” said Faisal Moola, a director general with the David Suzuki Foundation.

Stoner later posed for a picture while holding the bear’s head (seen here via Deadspin).

But Clayton Stoner defended his actions, saying he went through the correct process for the hunt.

“I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors. I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting licence through a British Columbia limited-entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my licence while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May. I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia.”

As CBS Sports noted, it is still unclear how the charges against Clayton Stoner could affect his upcoming NHL season. His court date is scheduled for the day before the Anaheim Ducks are scheduled to start their season.

[Picture by Jeff Gross/Getty Images]