Bear problem was just the beginning
The problems began for Frederick “Fritz” Klingler when a black bear came on his porch to eat dog food. He says the bear attacked him, forcing him to shoot it three times in self-defense.
The California Department of Fish and Game tells a different story.
“My personal opinion is no, it wasn’t a self-defense killing,” said DFG Warden Dave Bezzone. “A number of things indicated it was something else.”
Bezzone wouldn’t detail what those things were, but he did say Klingler, a former South Lake Tahoe resident, attempted to buy a bear hunting license after the killing.
The investigation led to Klingler’s Woodfords home in Alpine County. Bezzone obtained a warrant and called sheriff’s deputies after searching Klingler’s house on Jan. 26.
Deputy Jeff Bennett said Klingler was stealing power from Sierra Pacific and using that power to cultivate marijuana.
“He built his own house 10 years ago. It appears it was wired in when he built the house because we had to tear up his driveway to disconnect it,” Bennett said. “He spliced in before the meter. Sierra Pacific came back and had to jackhammer the driveway.”
Deputies also charged Klingler with possession of methamphetamine. His son, Richard, a 20-year-old who lived with his father at the time, was charged with cultivation of marijuana.
In all, the Alpine County District Attorney has filed 10 charges against Fritz Klingler stemming from the alleged power theft, marijuana cultivation and drug possession. He also is charged with one felony and 10 misdemeanors relating to the dead bear and other alleged violations of state game regulations.
Klingler’s preliminary hearing is set for 10 a.m. July 3 at the Markleeville Courthouse.
“I’m fighting all the charges. All the charges are false,” Klingler said. “I purchased a bear tag, it has nothing to do with this case. I think they’ve always wanted to come into my house because I ride Harleys.”
In fact, Klingler rides really fast Harleys. In 1999, on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, Klingler went 171.667 mph on a single-engine, gas-powered Harley-Davidson, according to the Southern California Timing Association web site.
While living at South Shore for 27 years, he worked as a flight instructor and motorcycle accessory salesman. These days he makes money driving trucks and designing fast motorcycles.
“Ever since that bear came in here, it put a damper on my life. They scared off my girlfriend, scared my friends. I’m not backing off. I’m going to fight them all the way,” Klingler said. “But they accomplished what they set out to do. They destroyed my life and made me out to be a bad person in the community, which I’m not.”
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