Special Report: Operation Something BruinUpdated: Tuesday, April 21 2015, 11:18 AM EDT
We told you about "Operation Something Bruin" earlier this month, when our investigation found wildlife officers killed some of the bears, and hunters say they were unfairly charged.
Dozens of hunters were arrested and charged with hundred of crimes. Thursday, their attorneys argued why those charges should be dismissed.
Thursday morning seven of the eight men facing charges appeared before a Federal Judge, accused of everything from poaching and baiting bears illegally, to transporting bears across state lines.
"They ain't got a case as far as I'm concerned the case they got they built and they done themself," says accused poacher Jerry Parker. The accused poachers claim undercover wildlife officers killed the bears illegally and pinned the crimes on them. "It's all bologna, basically," adds Parker.
For more than four hours attorneys for the defendants argued the state officers did not have the authority to make cases on federal property, because sections of the Nantahala National Forest where the alleged crimes occurred, were not federally regulated.
Linda Crisp's husband and son are both charged in this case. "I'll be looking forward to these men being free and their innocence proved and I was happy about today," she says.
North Carolina Wildlife Officer Chad Arnold's own report states he killed two bears. He charged hunters with crimes relating to those bears, including federal charges of transporting a bear out of state.
We tried to ask Arnold about that after the hearing. Mike mason: "You're the one who transported a bear across state lines sir?" Chad Arnold: "I have no comment." Mason: "But why did you charge the hunters...." Arnold: "Mr. Mason I'm not going to tell you again I have no comment for you and get that out of my face. Do you understand?"
"I guess he has a right not to answer them at this point, but there will come a time when he'll have to answer questions, you can't not answer questions anymore," says Defense Attorney, Allyn Stockton.
Trial in this case is set for September 2nd. During News 13's investigation we also found Officer Arnold wasn't granted written authority to investigate out of state until after he made his cases, and attorneys plan to bring that up during trial.
Also, Congressman Mark Meadows recently called for a federal investigation into the officers' conduct, but since they're state officers the feds decided not to pursue it.
Part I: Special Report: Operation Something Bruin
Part II: Special Report: Operation Something Bruin