Outcome of grizzly bear shooting case shows feeling threatened is not enough

Although the griz killer might have gotten a slap on the hand, a good precedent was set-

When it comes to grizzly bears, a threatened species, you can legally shoot one in self defense. However, the recent  Jackson, WY conviction of a man who shot a grizzly in what he said was self defense shows that self defense does not mean you are justified killing a griz just because you saw it and were frightened.

Trial sets precedent. Verdict in grizzly bear shooting shows that people must justify a sense of threat. By Cory Hatch and Sarah Lison, Jackson Hole News and Guide.



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  1. cc Avatar

    Very encouraging that a jury of his peers would honestly assess the incident and whether he was truly in danger or not. As the article points out the ruling is especially important now that loaded guns are allowed in National Parks. I think the lighter sentence was due to the jury recognizing that the hunter was truly (albeit unreasonably) afraid for his life and the fact he turned himself in.

  2. Linda Hunter Avatar

    I am hopeful that talking about bear body language in court will make an impression on people who carry guns to the point where it is an accepted fact . . . a fact that is pretty well accepted in Alaska where people live and work around bears for years with no incidents that are life threatening. Only bear hunting guide companies seem to misinterpret bears on their websites where they market their hunts. One video clip I saw on one of those sites showed a sub-adult bear who was curious about the humans . . the bear worked his way close and stood up to see what they were doing. The guide voice says “he will stand up just before he attacks so when he pops up let him have it.” The bear popped up with a clearly inquisitive look and you could hear two guns go off and then the bear dropped dead. Good shooting but a poor message to hunters who could get a ticket for shooting a bear that was not a threat. Why is it that everyone else in bear country knows that bears only attack from a low position after several warnings. Guides in Alaska have gotten away with telling people things for years that are not true . . but they do work for tips and this guide probably did well as the bear presented the best target at that point.

  3. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    About time. Hopefully this sets a precedent for wolves. I also hope that people don’t think that just because it is around livestock that means it is killing them.

  4. Jeff Thornton Avatar
    Jeff Thornton

    It will end up, bears will die. The increased population will be brought to a hault and may see decreases, because you don’t need “schooling” to carry a gun in the park. The right to bare arms came from a time when people knew how to use them and knew what to do with them. Today, idiots who shoot 5 or less shots a year are walking through Yellowstone, if a badger jumped out, they would shoot it. So, back country education MUST be longer if you say you are having a fire arm and make it VERY clear the priceless value of a Bear – all bears. You better have teeth marks on your body, or you PAY. * Minimum $50,000 should be assessed. You can replace an idiot tourist, but bears are few and far between.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan