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Homeowner Shoots Yearling Bear in Self-Defense in California

yearling bear shot

A California homeowner shot and killed a yearling bear that entered his home on Memorial Day, sparking debate over the necessity of the action. Wildlife experts and neighbors question the homeowner’s decision, emphasizing better safety practices.

TAHOE, CALIFORNIA (3-minute read) — On Memorial Day, a homeowner in Tahoe, California, shot and killed a yearling bear that entered his home through an unsecured backdoor. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division received notification of the incident around 2:30 p.m. on May 27. The yearling bear shot has caused some controversy.

Peter Tira, a CDFW information officer, stated, “You have the right to protect yourself while an animal enters your home. It’s not a crime to defend your home from a wild animal that enters it.” The homeowner reportedly attempted to scare the bear away by shouting and making noise, but the bear advanced towards his dog. The homeowner then retrieved a .22 rifle from his bedroom and shot the bear twice.

The wounded bear ran outside and climbed a tree before falling due to its injuries. Seeing the bear suffering, the homeowner felt compelled to euthanize it with a third shot and then called 911.

Some community members and wildlife advocates are skeptical of the homeowner’s actions. Ann Bryant, executive director of the Bear League, emphasized the importance of securing homes to prevent such incidents. “If you don’t want bears coming in your house, close and lock the doors and windows,” she said. Neighbor Bogdan Yamkovenko, who witnessed the event, believes the bear’s behavior was exploratory and not aggressive. “The bear wasn’t breaking in. It seemed like the bear was being curious, trying to see if it could get in the house, potentially get some food,” he noted.

Yamkovenko claims he did not hear the first shots until the bear was already outside, suggesting the bear never fully entered the home. He also mentioned that this bear was familiar to the neighborhood and had been seen multiple times during the week, usually acting non-threateningly.

Bryant explained that juvenile bears, often seen during the day to avoid larger nocturnal bears, are just learning to live independently. She advocates for patience and non-lethal measures to handle such encounters.

Both Bryant and Yamkovenko believe alternative methods could have been used. “You could have kicked it with your foot,” Yamkovenko said, emphasizing the bear’s small size of 75-85 pounds. Bryant added, “He didn’t deserve to die.”

While there are measures to take to ensure animals don’t get into your home, if the need for self-defense arises, using a firearm is something that is acceptable in my book.

Safety Tip: Always ensure doors and windows are securely closed and latched to prevent wildlife from entering your home. If you encounter a bear, use loud noises to scare it away, and keep a safe distance.

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