CDOW: Fatal bear shooting justified |

CDOW: Fatal bear shooting justified

David O. Williams

The fatal shooting of a young, 200-pound black bear last week near Tennessee Pass was justified self-defense, a Colorado Division of Wildlife investigation has concluded.Randy Carter, 45, owner of Dr. Death pest control, says the bruin had been “ravaging” his property on the 731 Road four miles south of Camp Hale all weekend before he was finally forced to shoot the animal once in the head with a high-powered hunting rifle early on the morning of Monday, June 9.”If it wouldn’t have come at me and I wouldn’t have felt threatened, I wouldn’t have shot it,” Carter says of the incident. He adds that he tried to scare the animal away over a period of eight or nine hours, but that it was determined to get into the chest freezer on his deck.”In the end, what it came down to is I was between it and its food and it wasn’t backing down,” says Carter, who finally shot the animal when it approached him at 6 a.m., June 9, when he went out to his truck to go to work.Carter says he’s lived in the area for three years and never had problems with wildlife. He says he’s a lifelong hunter of deer and elk who has never hunted bear.”In all those years of hunting, I’ve never once pulled a bear tag. I don’t hunt bears. If I had wanted to hunt bear, I would have done it,” Carter says. “I don’t feel real good about what I did, but if I feel threatened by a mountain lion or bear, I’m going to shoot it.”Colorado Division of Wildlife officer J.T. Romatzke says no citation will be issued in the case, though he adds there are some things Carter could have done differently to avoid the fatal shooting of the young bear.”At this point, it’s pretty much a closed case,” Romatzke says. “If there’s any other information that comes up about the shooting, then the case can definitely be reopened at that time.”Romatzke speculates a barbecue grill on Carter’s deck may have attracted the bear and led it to the freezer, but his investigation concluded a birdfeeder at a neighboring home might just as easily have peaked the bear’s interest and drawn it into the vicinity.Romatzke says Carter should have used means other than firing a rifle off over the animals head to scare it away, which Carter admits he did in the hours prior to the fatal shot.”Personally, I would rather not have bullets flying into a direction where we don’t know if someone is around,” Romatzke says, “and an air horn is obviously going to be a significant noise.”Romatzke also faults Carter for not calling authorities earlier.”After the first sighting and when the bear returned for the second time and it looked like it was definitely a problem, go ahead and pick up the phone and call and have one of us come out and help alleviate the problem without it leading to what it did,” he says.But Carter says he is often ignored in his remote corner of the county.”Up where I live the county doesn’t do anything for me, the state doesn’t do anything for me, the federal government doesn’t do anything unless they figure I’m in trouble for something and they need to nab me,” Carter says. “All I get to do is pay my property taxes, and it’s pretty frustrating when you get no services.”In general, Romatzke urges people to be extra careful with food items and trash when bears are around.”What I tell people is that, living in bear country, we need to be aware of those items and keep trash inside and keep barbecue grills and bird feeders clean and away from where bears can get to them,” Romatzke says.

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