Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Man shoots 4th bear at Cathedral View home

 


Wildlife troopers are investigating the shooting of a brown bear Aug. 2 by a homeowner who has killed four bears near his Cathedral View subdivision home since 2000.

Resident Scott Hansen said he shot the bear at about 10 p.m., after wife Valina spotted it less than 25 feet out the open door of the family’s greenhouse, which she was closing for the night. Valina screamed and the bear moved about 60 feet away from her, Hansen said.

“The dog was running after the bear, but the bear stopped. It was confronting the dog. That’s why I chose to take action. When I came out of the house and saw it, the bear was not moving away. It was moving toward the dog,” he said.

Hansen, who has 10 children, 10 goats and about 50 chickens at his mountainside property, maintains a double-stranded electrical fence around many of his outbuildings, but not the greenhouse. The bear was outside the electrical fence when he shot it, Hansen said, and his wife was “trapped” in the greenhouse.

“I shot it because my wife was in danger and I determined it was a threat that wasn’t leaving the property and it presented a future threat that was probably greater than the present threat,” Hansen said.

Wildlife trooper Ken VanSpronsen said in an interview Tuesday he hasn’t decided whether to file charges against Hansen, but the trooper said he probably wouldn’t pursue one for taking a bear out of season.

VanSpronsen said his investigation, which included analysis of bear tracks and footprints and interviews, mostly verified Hansen’s account. “It fits the statutory requirements of a defense of life or property (situation),” he said.

Under Alaska’s defense of life or property law, a person may kill a bear in defense of life or property if the person did not provoke an attack or cause a problem by negligently leaving out food or garbage. The law also states a person must have done everything else possible to protect the life and/or property that is threatened.

The male brown bear was likely 3 to 5 years old and was sealed at the Department of Fish and Game office Monday.  

Hansen said he hadn’t seen the bear previously but saw a pile of scat on his property the day before, and after the shooting found a spot near his neighbor’s house where the animal apparently had bedded down. “There’s a lot of human activity in the area the bear would have known about, but it chose to stick around.”

Hansen said he lets his dog in the area outside the electric fence. “The dog is a regular part of our bear protection. It’s our alert system.”

Hansen was prosecuted in 2008 when he shot a bear across a roadway. He was acquitted.

Interim police chief Simon Ford said he won’t file a charge for discharging a weapon within the townsite in this case.

“It was a legitimate DLP according to (VanSpronsen). If it’s a drunk guy off shooting his gun in the backyard howling at the moon, we want to investigate that,” Ford said.