Authorities identify man who shot and killed bear |

Authorities identify man who shot and killed bear

Jack Barnwell
A man was identified as the person who shot and killed a bear in South Lake Tahoe.
Photo by Toogee Sielsch |

A man has been identified as the person who shot a young black bear near Pioneer Trail late Thursday, according to Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Foy, on Tuesday, said the man’s name has not been released because the bear’s death is still under investigation and the man hasn’t been cited.

The man reportedly admitted to shooting the bear and said it was an act of self-defense. Foy confirmed that the man had reported the bear had been in the garage.

Foy said once the investigation has concluded, Fish and Wildlife will turn over all information to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office.

Foy said that the man has sustained property damage from the same bear in the past. When a biologist was sent out, Foy said the man had been offered a depredation permit to kill the bear, but had declined.

“His initial statement was that he was fearful of retaliation from bear activists,” Foy said.

The bear had been seen wandering the neighborhood early Thursday morning by a couple. Later that night, they reported hearing what sounded like either a loud fireworks pop or gunshots.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Inc, received a call and sent out volunteer Toogee Sielsch to follow up on the call about the dead bear. Sielsch and his son determined that the bear had been shot in the back and had fallen from the tree.

Sielsch had the bear relocated to LTWC’s facility to preserve the body. Saturday morning, a Fish and Wildlife game warden came out to investigate.

Sielsch said by phone on Monday that he had performed a field analysis of the scene, including photos and a rough diagnosis of the bear’s cause of death. He said because it was growing dark, he made the decision to have it transported back to LTWC’s facility to preserve the evidence.

Foy said the game warden followed the bear’s tracks from where it had died back to where it had apparently come from, identifying the person who shot it.

Foy added that a past statement about following a blood trail had been inaccurate.

The BEAR League, a nonprofit that provides tips and information on how to handle bears in the Lake Tahoe basin, called off a fundraising effort should tips lead to the conviction of the killer.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, said no tips had come forward because Fish and Wildlife found the man on their own.

“The department found them on their own because they knew the man was quite vocal about the bear,” Bryant said.

Bryant said that the unidentified man has called both the League and Fish and Wildlife in the past about killing the bear.

“We don’t kill bears and we told him that,” Bryant said. “He wanted the bear killed, but the only problem was that he was not taking common sense steps to keep the bear from coming around.”

Bryant declined to give the man’s name, citing that it was still an active investigation.

She said that man allegedly did not keep his garage closed or keep food or trash out of reach of bears.

However, Bryant disputed the man’s claim of self defense.

“It’s not true because the body was found quite a ways away from his house,” Bryant said. “He did not try to attack him at his house. The bear might have been at the house or in the neighborhood. The bear hadn’t done anything.”

She also said that apparently the warden who did the tracking was not shown the site until Saturday afternoon.

“If there bear tracks running from the guy’s house, our volunteer would have noticed,” Bryant said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Bryant added “we just hope the department will investigate sensibly with fresh eyes.”

Foy, the Fish and Wildlife captain, said once the investigation finishes, all the information goes to the DA’s office. The DA will determine whether or not a crime has been committed and file charges accordingly.

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