An Evergreen, Colorado, man is facing felony charges after shooting two black bear cubs outside of his home on Tuesday morning at 5:15 a.m. The man was awakened by noises from the mother bear and her two cubs going through his trash.
He tried to get them to run away by firing two rubber shotgun rounds but it didn’t get their attention. While firing the two rubber rounds, the man’s dog ran outside. Concerned for the dog’s safety, he fired a live round, which struck the two black bear cubs.
One of the bear cubs was killed instantly and the other cub was badly wounded and had to be euthanized by Colorado rangers later.
“The live round also struck a neighbor’s home and broke a window,”said Dionne Waugh, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.
According to officials, the cubs’ mother was not wounded and fled to a nearby tree.
The incident is being investigated and the man could possibly be charged with a felony charge for illegally discharging a weapon and for hunting a bear out of season, said local authorities.
The cubs’ mother is a 150-pound sow, who scampered up a tree, unharmed, watching her cubs from a distance.
“Wildlife officers are monitoring her to make sure she returns to the wild,” said Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
There is a shortage of the berries that the black bears usually feed on this year (serviceberry and chokecherry bushes) because of heavy rains and a late hard frost so the bears are being forced to hunt for food. Black bears typically eat about 20,000 calories during the summer and want to eat before hibernating.
“That’s made it a tough food year for bears,” said Churchill.
Colorado is home to approximately 19,000 black bears and recently, black bears have been spotted in several northeast Colorado cities.
“Under Colorado law, bears cannot be killed out of season unless they are directly threatening humans or livestock,” said Churchill. “We are trying to get the word out that there are other ways to scare them off without resorting to shooting them,” she said.
Churchill said people can ward off bears with non-lethal means, such as banging on pots and pans or blowing an air horn.
Jefferson County public schools warned parents in a tweet not to let their children walk home from school that day.
Evergreen is about 15 miles west of Denver with a little over 9,000 people living there.
“Anywhere west of Interstate 25 can be bear country,” added Churchill.
[Image from Alan Vernon/Wikimedia]