MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE: 11/15/2017, 6:54 P.M.
A Meigs County man is accused by police of bearbaiting, but explains to us on camera why he’s innocent.
Bearbaiting is a blood sport that involves pitting a bear against another animal and letting them fight each other.
Clinton Bailey says he's able to keep his pet bear, which he named Cinny, through an Ohio wild animal permit.
He's had Cinny the bear on his farm on Bush Road in Long Bottom, Ohio for about 10 years.
That all changed Saturday, when police took took the bear away as part of their investigation into alleged bearbaiting.
Police have accused Bailey of charging people a $20 admission fee to allow dogs to attack his bear.
Bailey says he has charged hunters from across the Country a fee to allow their dogs to be in a fenced-off area with the bear.
But Bailey says the purpose is to get the dogs comfortable around a bear so they're ready to bear hunt with their owners.
Bailey says he has never allowed dogs to attack the bear.
"Everyone who's been here has been great people. We have rules we operate under. No contact. No fighting. My dad would shoot me if I fought a dog against a bear."
Bailey says that at his farm, dog owners are expected to immediately leash their dog if it comes into direct contact with the bear.
Prosecutors say they're still investigating the alleged bearbaiting case and more people involved could possibly face felony charges.
ORIGINAL STORY: 11/14/2017, 4:04 P.M.
Ten adults from West Virginia and Ohio could face felony charges, after they were caught at a bearbaiting event in Meigs County.
According to Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood, on Saturday, November 11, the Ohio Department of Agriculture Enforcement Division and Meigs County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at the home of Clinton Bailey, located on Bush Road in the Long Bottom community of Meigs County.
Bailey legally owns a bear under an Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) Permit.
Law enforcement recently learned that Bailey is alleged to have been operating a “bearbaiting” event, where several hunting dogs are released inside an enclosure with the bear, to attack the bear for entertainment of the people gathered there.
Police learned that Bailey was charging dog owners a $20 "admission" fee per dog to participate in the event.
Bearbaiting is defined as an illegal Animal Fight under Section 959.15 of the Ohio Revised Code.
In addition to Bailey and his juvenile son, seven men, two women and eight children were also at the event, with the majority of participants being from West Virginia.
At least one child was observed inside an unapproved enclosure while the dogs were attacking the bear.
Two of the men had handguns on their persons.
The bear was seized on a warrant by Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal program officials.
Bailey and all adult spectators at the bearbaiting event could face criminal charges, which will be presented to the Meigs County Prosecutor for Grand Jury consideration on felony charges.
Assistance during the search warrant was provided by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drone Team, who obtained significant video footage of the illegal activity, as well as the Washington County and Jackson County Sheriff’s Offices who provided tactical assistance.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio State Highway Patrol also assisted in the case.