STRATTON -- A Vermont hunter said Thursday that the GPS tracking devices on his three bear hounds stopped in the middle of a back road in the Green Mountain National Forest in Stratton and he believes someone shut them off and stole his dogs.
Russell Smith of Jamaica said his three Plott hounds named Jack, Clyde and Rock weren't out of his sight for more than five minutes when they disappeared Wednesday about 10 minutes after they had begun tracking a bear along the Stratton-Arlington Road not far from Grout Pond Road.
Shortly before he lost contact with the dogs his GPS developed interference, which can happen when another system is being used in the area, he said. The unit then stopped working, he said.
"They knew what they were doing because they shut the collars right off," Smith said.
He said a well-trained bear hound can be worth several thousand dollars.
Smith, 65, said he'd been hunting with dogs his whole life, starting out as a boy hunting rabbits. He's been hunting bear for 15 years and raised the three dogs from puppies.
One of the missing dogs is described as brindle with a white spot on the ear and chest, another is brown and white with brindle while the third is brown with tan around the mouth and on the chest.
Vermont's bear season opened Saturday and runs through mid-November.
Smith told police that before his dogs disappeared he saw an older light green or blue Ford truck in the
Vermont's chief Game Warden Col. David LeCours said he had never heard of anyone stealing bear hounds, but he didn't rule it out.
"I have seen it where people were upset with bear hounds and caught the dog and took the collar off," LeCours said.
Anyone who might have been in the area on Wednesday or might have information should call Senior Trooper Genevra Cushman at 802-254-2382.