FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Bear encounters are on the rise across the Front Range apparently because of a food shortage caused by wet and cold spring weather. But one Fort Collins homeowner is finding out why it’s a bad idea to deal with encounters on your own.
The man, who has not been identified, is facing several charges after shooting a bear that came into his backyard and encountered his dog.
Neighbors said the man put his dog in the backyard on Thursday, and then realized it engaged with a bear. The man told neighbors he went inside and grabbed a hunting rifle, then shot the bear out of concern for his dog.
“I know he’s not supposed to discharge the gun in the city limits except if it’s to protect his own life, but what about the life of his dog?” a neighbor said.
Churchill said state law allows for shooting a bear if it threatens you, your home, your vehicle or even your livestock, but it doesn’t protect pets.
“Pets are kind of different,” she said. “With the coyote issue in Colorado, we have always made it clear with people that if a coyote goes after your pet, that’s an animal vs. an animal and so we’re not going to go kill a coyote for coming after your pet.”
The man now faces three misdemeanor charges: Unlawful take of wildlife,unlawful possession of wildlife and unlawful discharge of a firearm.
The charges won’t bring jail time but could result in thousands of dollars in fines and suspension of hunting privileges.
“If you can protect your car you have to be able to protect your pet,” a neighbor said. “I don’t have guns, I don’t shoot guns, I don’t know anything about it, but he should be allowed to protect the life of his dog.”