Killing of black bear cub splits town of Tahoe after homeowner shoots dead and claims it advanced on him and dog

Black bear cub
Black bear cub

A northern California community is divided after a homeowner fatally shot a black bear cub that had wandered into his home near Lake Tahoe.

The man, who has not been identified, was watching TV with his dog in the living room at around 1.30pm on Memorial Day when he noticed the creature had entered through the back door, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The man told the newspaper that he had yelled at the animal, attempting to frighten it, so that it would leave but it didn’t work. The bear “advanced on him and his dog”, the Chronicle stated.

The homeowner then grabbed a loaded rifle, struck the cub twice, prompting the bear to retreat outside. He then shot the animal a third time, killing it.

“I put it out of its misery. I don’t like things to suffer,” the man told the Chronicle. “I didn’t feel good about it at all, to be honest.”

A California Fish and Wildlife warden investigated the incident and brought no charges, concluding the man had acted in self defense, department spokesperson Steve Gonzalez, told the outlet. However some of the man’s neighbors think he should be held accountable.

Ann Bryant, director of the nonprofit Bear League, told theLos Angeles Times that the organization received a call from a neighbor who had witnessed the shooting, prompting two members of their organization to travel to Lake Tahoe.

Neighbors claimed that the bear cub never fully entered the house, Bryant said. They also reported that this wasn’t the first time that the man had shot a bear.

Gonzalez told the outlet that he didn’t know about the homeowner’s history involving bear-related shootings.

“They believe him rather than all the neighbors who saw it and who know him and who have heard his discussions about how he feels about bears and know about the other killing,” Bryant said. “It’s disappointing the department of wildlife would just turn a blind eye.”

In 2021, the homeowner had told the Chronicle that he and his wife returned from vacation to find that bears had entered their kitchen and made a mess of it. “I think they’re a pest,” he said at the time.

One neighbor who reportedly witnessed the incident shared what he had seen.

“He inched his way in, getting further and further inside, but he never went all the way in,” the neighbor, Bogdan Yamkovenko, said. “You always saw a part of the bear.”

Yamkovenko told the outlet that he watched the animal step back, turn around, run off and climb up a nearby tree. “That’s when I heard the first shot,” he said.

The neighbor reporting hearing three gunshots, all of which were outside. He also recalled the warden telling him that four shots had been fired.

The warden “told us something didn’t add up about the neighbor’s story because the neighbor kept saying there were four shots and that he shot the bear inside the house,” Yamkovenko said. The neighbor said that he had tried to call the warden, who did not return his call, after learning the case was closed.

The Bear League has launched a petition demanding a “criminal investigation of Lake Tahoe Bear Cub Shooter.” The nonprofit organizers wrote that it “is calling on the El Dorado County District Attorney to conduct a criminal investigation into this event.”

The Independent has reached out to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office for comment.