A visitor to the Lakes Basin near the Town of Mammoth shot and killed a bear that was reportedly eating his snack food.
Bears getting into coolers and picnic supplies in the Lakes Basin near Mammoth are a common occurrence each summer. Visitors often are frightened away from their dinner by the animal, which then proceeds to go after the tasty treats. Usually the person gets wise, makes a bunch of noise and scares the bear off. That was not the case this week.
Tuesday evening around 5:00 pm, scanner traffic appeared to indicate that there was a bear incident in the Lakes Basin. In what could be a positive sign that the various agencies are working together on wildlife again, Fish and Game, the Forest Service, Mammoth Police, and Mammoth Wildlife Manager Steve Searles all responded to investigate.
We have not yet heard back from Fish and Game, but Searles did confirm that a man shot and killed an otherwise healthy sow with a .44 caliber handgun.
The man had reportedly been fishing at Lake Mary when the sow approached, walking along the shoreline. When the sow started to eat the mans snack food, the man reportedly went back to a vehicle for his weapon and shot the eating bear in the head from about 40 to 45 feet. From what he heard on scene, Searles reports that the sow had not shown aggression, and there was no swipe or bluff charge in this situation. He calls the shooting, unprovoked.
Nancy Upham with the Forest Service reports that the man has claimed self defense, but the case is still being investigated by Fish and Game. If the game warden decides that the shooting was not self defense, there could be a hefty fine, Upham reports.
The Forest Service could charge the man for discharging a firearm in the Lakes Basin. The Lakes Basin is inside the jurisdiction of the Town of Mammoth, so police could also file firearm charges as well, but it appears that both are waiting to see if Fish and Game investigates.
In 2006, a bow hunter with a tag shot and killed a bear next to Lake Mary. He was charged with discharging a firearm inside the limits of the Town of Mammoth, shooting from a road, and shooting within 150 feet of an occupied residence.
Upham reports that to her knowledge the man has not been cited, but the investigations continue. Well keep you posted if charges are filed.