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Is It Okay To Shoot Bears On Your Property?

Craig Huckerby for local2 sault ste. marie
July 16th, 2012 at 2:06pm | Last Updated at 2:11pm

Sault Ste. Marie City Police say they don't want to see citizens shooting bears , stemming from an incident last week when a homeowner shot a bear on their property after helping itself to some beehives.


Since then a number of questions have surfaced regarding firing a gun within city limits. The person was not charged in this incident but City Police say they don't want to see this incident set precedent with a number of other bear sightings this morning within the city.

Constable Sonny Spina of the City Police say they can not release personal information about the homeowner whether the person had a license for a gun.

"My thoughts aside, I do not recommend that people take it upon themselves to shoot bears. The best advice is to continue to make your property less inviting for the animals and to report issues to the MNR. The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service will continue to work in partnership with the MNR to help resolve these issues in emergency circumstances." Spina told local2news.

It's against the law to fire a gun within the city limits, however the person who shot the bear was not charged. "It is an offence to discharge a firearm within the city limits. In this case I would say that once all of the factors had been considered, the person did not have the specific intent to break that law." Spina said.

"I can tell you that it was decided not to lay any charges in this incident. I do know that this bear had been at the residence earlier in the day and was causing damage. It was chased off by a dog, however returned later at a time when the persons wife and dog were both outside. The bear was not scared off the second time. "

According tot he homeowner, the bear was deemed aggressive due to the damage of the beehives on the property and that the bear would not leave. Was the bear being aggressive?

"This is situational. I canít give an answer that can cover every circumstance. There are several factors that contribute to a personís perception of an incident. All of those factors must be weighed together. Things like time of day, personal experiences, and presence of children or other people (among many other things) can be different in each circumstance which is why each situation has to be treated individually."

Many people when they see a bear will try to scare if off, Bears are very timid creatures and scare easily. Could the homeowner just fire off shots to scare the bear without harming it?

"I donít recommend that. Any person that discharges a firearm (in any circumstances hunting or otherwise) is responsible for where their rounds end up. The act of discharging a firearm into open space has the potential to have that round stray off and hit an unintended target." Spina said.

Despite the shooting on last week Spina said certain circumstances are evaluated hw a gun is fired.

" It is very difficult to say that someone will always or will never be charged with an offence. As a police service we deal with each situation independently. This means that the circumstances in each case are evaluated and it is the totality of those circumstances that bring us to a conclusion to lay a charge on not, so in a sense it is very situational. I do not recommend that any person attempt to ďtake matters into their own hands .Ē This may create an unnecessary risk to public safety. " Spina continued, " The safety and security of the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie is, and has always been the top priority of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service. We do continue to encourage residents to take steps to make their property less inviting to wildlife, however, if someone finds themselves in a situation where they encounter large wildlife it is always best to contact police and MNR services."

City Police had to dispatch a bear last fall on a residential street when residents complained of the bear " terrorizing the neighbourhood" Another bear was recently shot by the OPP in Wawa.

Up to this year, the MNR would trap the bears and re-locate the bears north of the City.

That practice came to an end however with recent cutback to the ministry.

"It is an unfortunate reality to sometimes an animal has to be dispatched. Those situations are rare and should only be used when the need to preserve the animal is outweighed by the risk to public safety." Spina said


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