Charges not filed in bear shooting

By DeeAnna Haney | Jun 05, 2014
While two of these orphaned cubs were rescued by state wildlife officers, a third one was suspected to have perished when it was run over by a vehicle.

Though wildlife officers were able to rescue two bear cubs after their mother was killed in the Whitewater Estates subdivision in Maggie Valley earlier this week, the third cub has died, wildlife officials say.

The sow died early Monday morning after Jim Cooper, 71, shot and killed it in his backyard. Cooper said the bear charged him when he went outside at daybreak and said he shot the bear in self defense.

It wasn't until after he killed the bear that he noticed the three cubs, not more than 10 pounds each, that were nearby.

Biologists and officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission came after neighbors reported the shooting. Cooper only called a friend, who he thought could use the meat and the carcass was gone by the time state and local officials arrived. The officials retrieved the carcass, which was shot out of season, from the third party, and captured two of the cubs that had climbed a tree. The third bear cub quickly scampered away.

Sgt. Andrew Helton with the commission said he believes the last bear cub was run over and killed by a vehicle later that evening. The other two bears will be bottle-fed and raised at a rehabilitation facility until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.

Helton said charges will not be filed against Cooper for the shooting. Cooper, who is an avid bird watcher, reported troubles with a bear last year, and state wildlife officials advised him to remove the food source, and the bears would stay away. Cooper said the state ought to keep the bears off of his property, and said he was unwilling to remove bird feeders.

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