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A jury in Ashville, North Carolina has found a man not guilty of taking a bear out of season and of discharging a firearm in city limits, reports citizen-times.com Ernest James Page had always claimed that he shot the 150-175 pound bear in self defense. The jury discussed the issue for over two hours, but unanimously agreed with Page. It’s significant that Page went to a jury trial, using a court-appointed public defender, and won. The district attorney justified charging Page thusly:

Moore said he has dismissed some cases in the past where a person felt threatened and shot a bear, but they typically involved the person making a call to law enforcement beforehand and asking for help. Moore said Page did not do that and actually went inside his house with his teenage daughter after spotting the bear, then returned with the rifle.

Ironically, Moore then stated that the Wildlife Commission needs to do something about the local bear problem:

“I think the N.C. Wildlife Commission needs to look at doing something about removing the bears in town, because it is getting to be too many, and I do think they are dangerous at times,” Moore said, noting he saw a 400-pound bear at his house over the summer.

Any bear that has become accustomed to being around humans in an urban environment is a threat. It does no good to relocate such animals, as they have lost their fear of people and learned to associate them with food. The succinct phrase used by wildlife biologists in these situations is, “a fed bear is a dead bear.” While ignorant and anthropomorphizing neighbors complained about poor Yogi being ventilated, Page may well have saved a child or older person from being severely mauled or killed.

The judge agreed to allow Ernest Page to ask for his rifle back after 30 additional days. Other than imposing another burden on the rifleman, it’s hard to see the purpose of the delay, as the rifle has been in police hands for over a year. Page shot the bear last October with a 30-30 rifle.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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58 Responses to NC Man Who Shot Bear Exonerated, May Get His Rifle Back

  1. Either the D.A. is pitiful and acted stupidly or is incompetent. “It’s significant that Page went to a jury trial, using a court-appointed public defender, and won.” Indeed! That is extremely significant. It could have been that the “court-appointed public defender” is a rare, one in a million (or more!), who is a really good defense lawyer who volunteers for the public defender program part-time, or most likely, the case was so open-shut that the D.A. should have known this and not burnt the public tax payer money to prosecute it.

    • The problem is the D.A.s job has been to is to get convictions no matter the crime instead of assuming accountability to investigate and prosecute crimes within their jurisdiction.

      What the job has become seems to be at odds with serving the people.

      You guys have said it over and over and it continues to be true: government exists only to expand itself.

  2. Two hours is actually pretty short for deliberations. They probably spent half of that time just reading the instructions and selecting a “presiding juror”.

    • That’s been my experience the few times I’ve been on a jury. Plus part of the time is waiting for the bailiffs to find the judge and the attorneys to get them back in the courtroom.

      • Yup. When I did jury duty a few years ago — which was a ton of fun, btw! (seriously) — the work day was shorter than my normal work days (I think it was like 9:30 to 4:00) and daily lunch breaks were 90 freakin minutes long.

        I wouldn’t shoot a black bear in my yard though. It would have to either A) surprise us while we were in the yard, act threatening, and block our entrance back into the house or B) get pretty well along in the process of physically entering the house. ….otherwise I’d just hang out by the windows and watch it and avoid whatever yard it was in until it left. …a brown bear would receive less leniency but still the same general idea, although if it were between me and the house and it moved towards me at all, the shooting would likely commence…

      • No so much in California. The jurors swear an oath to apply the law as given to them by the judge, and it is improper to instruct or argue to a jury that it has the power of nullification. The courts have uniformly held that nullification is contrary to a critical public policy of ordered justice, and is in essence anarchy in practice. The “wisdom” of any law is, in the first instance, a question for the legislative process, and in the second instance, a question of law for the courts, not a question to be decided by a trier of fact.

  3. He shot that bear because it’s black. If it was a polar bear it would still be alive today. Because of polar bear privilege.

  4. Note the judge only said he could ask for his rifle back in 30 days, instead of ordering the cops to return it to him immediately.

    • How does the state, or the judge, retain any interest in the defendant’s assets after the defendant is found not guilty?

      • I’d guess it’s a paperwork thing. 30 days to give the police time to receive the results of the trial and process it so his property can be marked as releasable. The same thing happens every time a new court date is set in an ongoing trial.

  5. That DA’s Statist horse feces (or should I say bear feces?) exemplifies Asheville as a progressive bubble in a mostly non-progressive southern state. There are a couple of others in NC, but Asheville really shines.

    I like to refer to Asheville as NC’s “Aspen” where Chapel Hill is our version of Boulder.

    • As a recent transplant to this state… I have yet to see much that is non-progressive. Perhaps it’s because I live in Charlotte and work in the Gastonia area, but most people that I’ve encountered are progressive/liberal. Transplants from up north abound.

      • Yeah, get away from Meck, Asheville and the Triangle area and things are quite different.

        One could argue “urban vs rural” is at work, too.

  6. Sorry, but I agree with the prosecution, at least as far as I can tell the facts from what we’re told. He had no business being a freelance animal control officer. Call the cops, and if the animal needs to be put down let them handle it. Black bears are retiring animals and very rarely attack humans. I admit it’s not an easy call but that’s where I come down.

    • “Black bears are retiring animals and very rarely attack humans.”

      Apparently you have not been keeping up with what’s been going on in the GSMNP in recent years.

      One recent study found 63 fatal attacks in a little over 100 years, but 17 (27%) of those have occurred since the year 2000.

      • Even by the recent numbers, bears still kill fewer people than dogs. Just some food for thought for the all bears near towns should die line of thinking.

        • Base Rate Fallacy. Sorry.

          Another point: mortality rates in dog attacks and bear attacks is roughly the same (about 10%), at least for black bear attacks in the Smokies.

          I’m not in the ‘bears should die’ camp by any stretch of the imagination. But, I’ve done a ton of camping/hiking/hunting in bear country and I live in a town that has the black bear as sort of its town mascot.

          As such, I kind of get a kick out of bear discussions … almost as much fun as caliber wars.

        • There isn’t a base rate fallacy in my statement. My statement – dogs kill more people than bears – is 100% correct. A base rate fallacy would be saying bears are more dangerous than dogs because they kill more people. But I didn’t say that.

    • “He had no business being a freelance animal control officer. Call the cops, and if the animal needs to be put down let them handle it”

      Totally agree with that logic, never challenge yourself to handle things yourself and instead always depend on others to fix your problems.

      Never change a tire, call a mechanic and if the tire needs replacing let them handle it.
      Never remove a wasp nest, call an exterminator and if it needs removing let them handle it.
      Never grill a steak, instead call a …. grill master?
      Never shoot a bad guy assaulting your wife, call a cop and if the bad guy needs to be put down let them deal with it.

  7. I had heard that the poor bear was just starting to turn his life around when this ignorant specicist cut him down in the prime of life.

  8. Rob me thinks not!! A black bear is a predator and one that is used to being around humans with no fear. Falls under the realm of a good bear is a Dead Bear. Ya rubber bullets might work or piss it off. In this case Dead Is Good. Relocation doesn’t work and is a waste of Time and money. Being from NW Montana we see time and again and the only way it ends well for all involved is a dead Bear!! And no liability when it returns

  9. The picture is misleading as it casts the bear as a friendly, Yogi type bear when the exact opposite may have been the case. It also makes him/her look like a human sitting down to have a peaceful lunch or a beer when it is very doubtful that was the case if the man had to shoot the bear in the real story. Looks to me like the picture might have been put there by some anti-gun person to make the bear look friendly instead of menacing. That would add fuel to the argument that the guy really did not have too shoot the “poor, defenseless” bear.

    • Your lack of bear culture is showing. The picture shows that most bears are nonviolent and want to live in harmonious bliss with humans. Only a few bears want to kill people and bears like the one pictured condemn those actions. The bear pictured is only dangerous if it sees you or if it smells you or if it hears you or if it gets hungry or if it wants to have sex or if it has cubs or if it sees you looking at it or if it’s not feeling well or if it is feeling great or if it just decides it is a bad ass (which it is) and wants to assert itself.

  10. *sigh*

    Asheville. Why am I not surprised. Out east of where I was born and raised. The city’s government is completely infested with left wing retards. I’ve mentioned it before here but I’ll say it again. They would rather let the deer populations get insanely over populated instead of letting them be reasonably managed by hunting.

  11. I’m not saying he had a duty to retreat, but insofar as he did escape, only to retrieve a firearm and re-engage the bear, then he sounds guilty to me. Were I on the jury, we’d still be in there debating until we reached a verdict or were hopelessly hung.

    • Hey, we don’t have a lot of facts.
      Maybe the bear was rooting in his garbage or trying to open his car up. First, he retreats and arms himself. Then he goes out to stop whatever was going on – at this point the bear keeps doing damage or gets hostile.

      Or, maybe the bear was sunbathing and the guy just wanted to shoot a bear. Donno, Jonathan. Too few facts to rightly judge – at least with what’s been presented online.

      • Too few facts is usually the case. There’s always an implied caveat in the way of “assuming it went down substantially as reported…..”

        So I agree with you. Still, it’s hard to get around that one (purported to be a) fact that he went inside to safety before coming back out to confront the animal. Not sure.

  12. Good for him in rejecting a plea and going to trial. I bet they dangled all kinds of guilty pleas in front of him with little to no jail time just to assert their authority in the matter. I bet the prosecutor would do the same thing in that situation.

  13. About 30 years ago in the North Carolina “Big Woods,” my uncle was hunting, when he shot a bear out of season. It attacked him while walking on it’s hindquarters and clawing at trees. He put nine 12 gauge slugs into it before it went down (he had the magazine plug out, illegally holding 5 shells, and cycled 4 more in the open breech until the bear dropped 15 feet away from him). His 8 year old grandson was hunting about 100 yards away.

    The game warden charged him, but spoke in his defense in court, and he was found not guilty. The Judge actually asked him if he had tried to run from the bear! Right, an overweight 60 year old man with five prior heart attacks.

    The game warden determined that the bear has been previously wounded. I was also told that it was the largest bear ever taken in NC at that time, and was mounted and displayed at the state capitol.

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