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.