Lake Tahoe man faces misdemeanor charge in fatal bear shooting
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A criminal charge has been filed against a South Lake Tahoe man for the alleged shooting of a juvenile bear on July 9 near Pioneer Trail.
Gilbert Wetenkamp faces one misdemeanor charge for illegal taking of wildlife under California’s fish and wildlife laws. The maximum penalty he faces is a $1,000 fine and one year in jail.
Wetenkamp said he acted in self-defense when the 2-and-a-half-year-old bear entered his garage. As the bear was leaving, he shot it with a shotgun, according to wildlife officials.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel took the lead on the investigation after the bear was found dead at the base of a tree near Minniconjou Drive.
A state game warden backtracked the dead bear’s tracks from where it had died back to Wetenkamp’s home.
Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, said there has been a massive writing campaign to have Wetenkamp charged.
“I think the DA’s office got a lot of correspondence to take this serious, which is good,” Bryant said. “It won’t just be brushed under the rug.”
El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Steven Bailey is scheduled to preside over the first hearing in the case, at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 25 in South Lake Tahoe.