Lake Tahoe neighborhood ‘angry and horrified’ with bear’s fatal shooting (update) | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe neighborhood ‘angry and horrified’ with bear’s fatal shooting (update)

Jack Barnwell
jbarnwell@tahoedailytribune.com

A man was identified as the person who shot and killed a bear in South Lake Tahoe.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A bear found shot dead near Pioneer Trail in South Lake Tahoe on Friday has sparked a call for action to find the person responsible for the shooting.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the nonprofit BEAR League, said a couple saw a 2-year-old untagged black bear tromping around the neighborhood on Thursday on Minniconjou Drive.

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UPDATE: The Lake Tahoe man who shot and killed the bear says he did so in self-defense.

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On Friday, Toogee Sielsch, a volunteer with Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, said he received a call to go out and take a look at what happened to what appeared to be the same bear.

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Sielsch said by phone on Monday he performed a field analysis of the scene, including photos and a rough diagnosis of the bear's cause of death.

He said because it was growing dark, he made the decision to have it transported back to LTWC's facility to preserve the evidence.

Sielsch said the couple that spotted the bear early Thursday later recalled hearing what sounded like either a loud firework going off or gunshots.

In a detailed timeline on the BEAR League's Facebook page, Sielsch wrote that he and his son had dragged the bear from the scene to his truck.

On Saturday, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Game Warden Darrell Stevenson evaluated the scene with Sielsch and began canvasing the neighborhood.

Bryant said later analysis by Fish and Wildlife determined the bear had been shot.

"The game warden came the next morning found that there were three bullet holes in his lower back," Bryant said.

She added the gunshot injuries were consistent with buckshot, and that it appeared the bear was climbing a tree when it was shot.

"Whoever shot him really went after him," Bryant said.

Shortly after the game warden began canvasing the area, Bryant said tips came in and have all been forwarded to Fish and Wildlife, which has assumed control of the investigation.

"The neighborhood is angry and horrified that this could happen in their neighborhoods and upsetting to people who appreciate nature that someone could do this," Bryant said.

Bryant said that bear shootings are uncommon in the Lake Tahoe Basin, but do occur every few years.

"It was a typical 2-year-old bear, so it really didn't know the rules, and it's up to the community to teach bears like that," Bryant said. "This time, he wasn't given the chance."

An account for a reward has been established in the event a tip leads to the conviction of a suspect responsible for the shooting.

As of Monday, the BEAR League had received pledges of more than $5,000 for that reward. Bryant expects more will be raised.

Those with information can call the BEAR League at 530-525-7297, or the Fish and Wildlife CalTIP line at 1-888-334-2258. Tips can be anonymous.