Helena restaurant owners plead guilty to buying bear parts

2013-11-26T00:00:00Z Helena restaurant owners plead guilty to buying bear partsBy Eve Byron Independent Record Montana Standard
November 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

HELENA — The owners of the New Hunan restaurant in Helena pleaded guilty Monday to 13 wildlife charges involving black bears, including having a five-gallon bucket with 12 bear paws in it at the restaurant.

David Hong, 57, and his wife Heng Huang, 52, — who goes by the name of Susan — were ordered by Judge Michael Swingley to pay $9,600 in fines, but he suspended $4,620, which means they’ll pay $4,980 if they stay out of trouble. Swingley also prohibited them from hunting for six years.

Sgt. Dave Loewen, a game warden, said the couple came to the state agency’s attention after they approached a customer eating in the restaurant, asked if they were hunters and inquired if they would sell them bear gallbladders. A concerned citizen called the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which launched an undercover investigation.

“It’s fairly significant for us … anytime you’re dealing with the sale of wildlife,” Loewen said.

Gallbladders are highly prized in some Asian cultures, and used for a range of medicinal purposes and as an aphrodisiac. They can sell for thousands of dollars.

Bear paws are considered a gourmet delicacy by some people.

Loewen said the couple solicited undercover agents on three separate occasions, and paid cash each time for bear parts, two whole bears and three gallbladders. The bear carcasses had been confiscated previously by FWP.

“Our concern was whether this was bigger than just what we were seeing,” Loewen said. “That’s why we got so deep on this one. We were concerned they were shipping these out of state, but we didn’t find that with this.”

Huang’s attorney, Michael Kakuk, said in court that Susan Huang had injured her hip a few years earlier, and wanted the gallbladders for her own medicinal use. They didn’t explain the purpose of the bear paws.

A search of both the couple’s home and the restaurant turned up three gall bladders, two butchered bears in the freezer and the 12 bear paws in the bucket, Loewen said.

Hong was ticketed twice for unlawful possession of two black bears on June 4; unlawful possession of all or part of three game animals and unlawful sale of those parts on Sept. 16; unlawful sale or purchase of a game animal and unlawful possession of a game animal on May 15; and unlawful transfer of a hunting license on Nov. 22, 2012.

Huang was ticketed for unlawful sale of game animal parts for buying 12 black bear paws and three gallbladders, and unlawful possession of those parts on Sept. 16; twice for unlawful purchase of each black bear on June 4; and twice for unlawful possession of the bears on May 15.

Reach Byron at eve.byron@helenair.com or 406-447-4076

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. SolennH
    Report Abuse
    SolennH - April 15, 2014 6:31 am
    Montana restaurant owner sue the Dex Media Inc., for placing the restaurant under the “Animal Carcass Removal”. A total destruction in the reputation of the company that cost them a lot of money for the charges. How often have you needed additional information on where can i get a payday loan, and turned to a web search on "payday loan guaranteed acceptance?"
  2. mttrailboss01
    Report Abuse
    mttrailboss01 - November 26, 2013 10:20 am
    Terrible judge.., they should have gone to jail, plus a larger fine. WE should protest their restaurant, by NOT going there to eat.
  3. Drifter
    Report Abuse
    Drifter - November 26, 2013 10:09 am
    "David Hong, 57, and his wife Heng Huang, 52, — who goes by the name of Susan — were ordered by Judge Michael Swingley to pay $9,600 in fines, but he suspended $4,620, which means they’ll pay $4,980 if they stay out of trouble. Swingley also prohibited them from hunting for six years."

    That's it? Disgusting practice and they get a fine that is cut in half? No lesson learned there.

  4. yetty
    Report Abuse
    yetty - November 26, 2013 5:17 am
    You must have really enjoyed those paws, huh oldie!!
  5. oldie
    Report Abuse
    oldie - November 26, 2013 3:32 am
    Fine them? You have got to be kidding me. A fine, for what they did? Think of the ones they got away with over the years. They deserve a lot worse than a fine. Tar and feather them I say. And run them out of town on a rail. In December! Naked!

    And sell tickets to the event. And televise it. Sell advertising for the show too. Show it all over the world, what happens to poachers, and wild animal parts peddlers, and their buyers in this state.

    I pay taxes in this state. Those were my bears too. I want them back. All of them, alive and well. If I can't get those bears back I want a fistful of hair in their place. G. d. them people anyhow!

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us at editor@mtstandard.com.

If your comment was removed or isn't appearing online, perhaps:

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).
  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.
  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.
  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.
  5. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.
  6. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.
  7. Your comment is in really poor taste.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Bulletin Board

Featured Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses