Castle Pines Resident Ticketed for Attracting Wildlife; Mama Bear Killed

CPW closes investigation on the shooting death of a bear out of Castle Pines, misdemeanor charge filed

DENVER - A Castle Pines resident was issued a misdemeanor charge for feeding or attracting wildlife by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers on Tuesday for their role that led to the death of a sow bear on June 27. The person shot the bear over concerns that it was attempting to enter their home at approximately 1 a.m. last Thursday. The investigation deemed the shooting to be justified.  Under state statute, it is lawful for a person to use lethal force to protect their personal safety when they feel threatened by a bear. 

The misdemeanor charge for a Parks and Wildlife Commission regulation is for failing to take remedial action to avoid contact or conflict with black bears. In this case, failing to remove attractants such as bird feeders after being notified to do so by CPW. 

CPW is not releasing the identity of the subject due to safety concerns for their well-being. The person was cooperative with the investigation, has paid their citation and is sending a financial contribution to the facility now caring for her cubs.

At approximately 1 a.m. on June 27, the person was alerted to a commotion in their backyard. The residents had left their kitchen window open for the evening. The subject entered the kitchen and saw a bear was standing up outside the kitchen window with its paws on the window like she was about to come in. The subject ran to an adjacent room to retrieve a handgun and upon returning to the kitchen, the sow was still there. 

The subject fired at the bear from inside their kitchen through the open window to scare it off. The sow then ran off. She had been accompanied by three cubs. When the cubs did not leave the yard, the subject reloaded with rubber buckshot, normally used to haze bears, and fired two rounds at the cubs, from the kitchen, through the open window in fear that the sow would return.

The subject told officers that they thought the pellets used would scare the bear off, but not kill her. Although the person felt they were justified in shooting to kill, the intent stated to investigators was to scare her off.

The next evening, Friday, June 28, the subject arrived home to find a news vehicle parked in the cul-de-sac. The subject stopped and talked to them and was told they were there to investigate the shooting of the sow. The person stated that was when they realized they had killed the sow. The subject stated they went inside their home and tried to figure out who they should call to report the shooting and that is when the wildlife officers arrived at their door.  

The sow’s body was found approximately 250 yards from the residence that Friday morning. Wildlife officers trapped two cubs, which were taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A diligent search of the area was conducted by wildlife officers on Friday, but they were unable to locate the third cub and it is presumed dead.

The investigation showed that the subject had three seed bird feeders and one hummingbird feeder all within approximately six feet of the kitchen window, which likely attracted the bears to the residence.

The residents had corresponded with CPW in 2016 and 2017 about bears. During those contacts, the owners were informed that the bird feeders were an attractant and were told to take them down.

By law, no person shall fail to take remedial action to avoid contact or conflicts with bears, which includes the removal of bird feeders.  “This is a common problem that we have across the state,” said Northeast Region Manager Mark Leslie said. “People refuse to take down their bird feeders, and find it more convenient to place their trash out the night before rather than wait and place it on the curb only on the morning of pick-up. 

“If there is any good that can come out of this case, it would be that maybe behaviors will change. If it does not, it can and does lead to the unwarranted deaths of our bears.”

If you live in bear country CPW recommends that bird feeders not be placed out when bears are active, from Easter through Thanksgiving.

Studies show that a big meal of tasty, nutritious seeds — a natural food for bears — is often the first reward a bear gets for exploring human places. Letting your bird feeders turn into bear feeders teaches bears that it’s safe to come close to people and homes looking for food. And for bears that can be a deadly lesson. 

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