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Bear shot with buckshot was accident

Christina Nelson

The quiet neighborhood of Coachland Mobile Home Park is the last place residents expected to hear a gunshot.

But a couple of days after the mysterious shooting of Rudy the Bear in Homewood, another furry friend was wounded – this time by Truckee police officers.

Officials have not yet determined if the bear is dead or alive.

At 1 a.m. on July 19, residents of the mobile home park were awoken by the shot that was used to divert a bear from the area.

“We used an aversion technique to shoot the bear and get him back in the woods,” said Commander Scott Berry of the Truckee Police Department. Berry said a 12-gauge shotgun was used in the shooting, which the department has admitted was an accident.

He said the department had received calls before about a bear in the area, but that night no call had been received. Police officers were in the area and knew it was trash night, a time when bears leave their homes in the woods to forage through unprotected garbage, he said.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the Bear League, a group that advocates the protection of bears, said she believed the shooting to be accidental. She said the officer mistakenly pulled out a lethal round instead of a non-lethal round to divert the bear.

“I don’t believe it was deliberate,” she said. “I don’t think the police would be foolish enough to do such a thing.”

“We make mistakes, and we will admit those mistakes, correct them and move on,” said Police Chief Dan Boon.

Andi Johnson, a resident of Coachland Mobile Home Park and a 15-year resident of Truckee, said bears and other wildlife have always wandered through her neighborhood.

Johnson noted that there are no garages or bear-proof garbage containers in Coachland, which she sees as a problem and the reason for the presence of bears in the neighborhood.

She said a bear had been seen in the area for the past week, but said she did not feel threatened by its presence.

“I think that (bears are) a part of living here in the mountains and we need to encourage them not to be here,” Johnson said. “I don’t believe in shooting them. They have more of a right to be here than we do.”

The Police Department and the Bear League have not yet determined if the bear is still alive or if it was killed in an accident on Highway 80 that killed a bear early Friday morning.

Bryant said officials are awaiting DNA test results being conducted by the California Department of Fish and Game to determine if the bear killed on the highway was the same bear wounded by police officers in Coachland.

“No other bear has shown up, or been found dead or wounded,” Bryant said. “It was probably (shot) in the rump, so there’s a 50/50 chance of survival. So he might die of an infection, he might be crippled.”

Bryant also said that the setup of Coachland encourages bears to wander into human territory because of the lack of bear-proof garbage containers.

“It’s a buffet. It’s a total bear buffet. They’re inviting him in, but they love him,” she said.


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