'Repulsive and Cruel': Nine Florida Suspects Baited Bears With Doughnuts Then Had Dogs Maul Them

Nine people have been arrested on suspicion of "repulsive" acts of animal cruelty after allegedly using packs of dogs to maul black bears in Florida after luring them out with food.

The suspects have been charged with a string of offenses following a year-long investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The group are accused of enticing black bears with foods such as doughnuts, pastries and peanut butter before using large packs of dogs to chase and maul the animals.

Some of the suspects are also accused of posting video clips of the attacks on social media such as Facebook and Snapchat. None of the individuals made any attempt to call off the dogs or stop the attack on the bears, the FWC said in a statement.

The group allegedly carried out the dog attacks on public and private lands across several Florida counties, including Baker, Flagler, Marion and Union.

"Not only were these gruesome acts of violence repulsive and cruel, they were recorded and posted to social media for the amusement of the defendants. I doubt they are laughing any longer, now that they have been arrested for serious crimes," Attorney General Pam Bondi said.

"The FWC wholly condemns the acts by these nine individuals outlined by this investigation," said FWC executive director Eric Sutton. "As conservationists and ethical hunters, it is appalling to think about the callous disregard for common decency and our state's precious natural resources shown by these violations. There is no place in Florida for these heinous acts."

Florida Governor Rick Scott also thanked law enforcement officers for their work, promising those responsible for the "inhumane acts" will face the full force of the law. "In Florida, we have no tolerance for vile animal cruelty, and we will hold anyone accountable who commits this heinous crime," Scott added.

The suspects are William Tyler Wood, 29, Dustin Reddish, 25, Haley Reddish, 25, Mark Lindsey, 26, Charles Luther Scarbrough III, 30, Hannah Weiner Scarbrough, 27, Christopher Elliot Haun, 42, William Landrum, 39, and Troy Travis Starling, 45.

They have been charged with a string of felonies and misdemeanors, including animal cruelty, illegal taking and baiting of black bear, and Florida RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act violations.

FWC chairman Robert Spottswood said: "The actions revealed by this investigation are disturbing to me and to my fellow Commissioners. Speaking on behalf of the Commission, these actions are not indicative of hunters and other conservationists, and I am grateful that our Division of Law Enforcement has worked diligently to bring their behavior to light."

A black bear scavenges for food at the Sequoia National Park in Central California on October 10, 2009. Nine people face animal-cruelty charges after allegedly using dogs to attack Florida black bears. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images