Grantsville, Maryland

From the Cumberland Times-News of August 31, 2007

Man shoots bear in self-defense

Maryland Natural Resources Police said Friday they will not charge an Amish Road man who shot a bear after it charged him and his wife and then attempted to come through a window after the couple sought refuge inside their home Wednesday evening.

“They had every right to do what they did,” said Clarissa Harris, a biologist with the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service. “It is appropriate to defend yourself or your family or your livestock.”

NRP Sgt. Ken Turner said Friday that the husband and wife heard commotion outside their house and then saw a bear trying to get at two penned goats.

“The man said he shouted at the bear and the bear turned and ran toward the couple. He told the investigating officer that he was glad nobody was seated on the porch because the bear moved so quickly that they would not have had time to get into the house,” Turner said.

The bear then attempted to pull an air conditioning unit out of the window frame as the wife held onto the unit from inside.

The husband grabbed a shotgun, loaded it with No. 4 pellets and shot through the window at the bear, according to Turner.

The couple called Maryland State Police at 7:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m. a NRP officer arrived to find the bear struck in the head and neck area and lying, still alive, in the yard. Turner said the officer then put the bear down.

“We were not dealing with a typical black bear, it seems,” Turner said, referring to the aggressive actions of the animal.

Harris said there is evidence that the bear, a 134-pound lactating female, may have been previously injured by an automobile. “There was a rash, lost hair and scrapes,” Harris said. “We have also sent the head away to be tested for rabies.” Harris said there was no evidence of cubs being nearby.

The location of the incident is described as Amish Road not far south of Intestate 68. Because it has brought no charges in the matter, the NRP would not release the family’s name.

Harris said the family did the correct thing by calling the agency right away. “There is a new law in effect that requires people to report that they have shot a bear,” she said.

From the Cumberland Times-News of September 4, 2007

Bear tests positive for rabies

The aggressive bear that was killed a week ago by an Amish Road homeowner after the animal charged and then attempted to pull out a window air conditioner has tested positive for rabies, a Garrett County health official said Tuesday.

“We sent the head to our health and mental hygiene lab in Baltimore on Thursday and got the results Friday,” said Steve Sherrard, director of environmental health for the county’s health department.

At 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 29, the homeowners had heard a commotion outside and saw a bear attempting to get at two penned goats. When the husband hollered at the bear, it wheeled and charged the man and his wife, who retreated into their house. At that point, the bear attempted to pull out the air conditioner while the wife held onto it from inside.

The husband then shot the bear through the window, striking it with No. 4 shotgun pellets in the head and neck. The bear was eventually put down by a Natural Resources Police officer.

“After consulting medical personnel at Sacred Heart (Hospital), the family, including two children, will be getting the post-exposure rabies shots,” Sherrard said. “Apparently the exposure to blood came when they were cleaning up the house where the bear had made contact.”

Harry Spiker, who heads the bear management program for the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service, said that neither the police officer nor a wildlife employee who responded will receive shots.

“Our wildlife staff all have the pre-exposure vaccine,” he said.

NRP said the homeowners were acting in self defense and will not be charged for shooting the bear. They have not been identified.

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