Shooting of bear in Castle Pines deemed justified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers

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CASTLE PINES, Colo. —Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers say they have closed the investigation into the shooting death of a bear in Castle Pines.

According to a release sent out on Wednesday, CPW officers announced a Castle Pines resident was issued a misdemeanor charge for feeding or attracting wildlife 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, as stated in the release.

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, according to CPW.

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.

According to the report, 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. The two cubs were taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center near Del Norte.

The body of the sow bear was found Friday at the base of a tree in Castle Pines, with two of her cubs in the branches above.

According to the investigation, the resident 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," he said.

“It was a terrible mistake," neighbor Joe Oltmann said. "It wasn’t as if he had any intent on even killing the bear that night. He was just trying to protect his family ... I’m still upset over the bear dying.”

Since speaking out in favor of the person who pulled the trigger, Oltmann says he’s been threatened.

“I had somebody that actually hid in the bushes at my house," he said.

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

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