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Black bear shot with .22 rifle in California home

Man survives bear attack with the help of a pocket knife, iStock-177529416Man survives bear attack with the help of a pocket knife, iStock-177529416
A cinnamon-colored phase of the common black bear entered the home of a longtime resident of Lake Tahoe, California., iStock-177529416

On Monday, May 27, a cinnamon-colored phase of the common black bear entered the home of a longtime resident of Lake Tahoe, California. The bear is reported to be a yearling. Yearling bears, recently separated from their mothers, have difficulty establishing their own territories. Sometimes sows, cubs and young boars stay close to human habitations to avoid being killed and eaten by adult male bears. A majority of young bears that do not reach adulthood are killed by adult male bears. It appears this young bear was disputing ownership of the house with the homeowner’s dog. From taahoedailytribune.com:

According to the department, after the homeowner shouted, made noises and waved his arms, “The bear did not move.” They say it started panting and headed for the man’s dog. At that point, the homeowner retreated to his bedroom and retrieved his 22 rifle. He returned to his living room, where, Tira says, the man shot the bear in the house twice.

The 75-85 pound yearling then ran out of the house and climbed a tree, but reportedly soon fell from the tree, and, says Tira, “seemed to be suffering from the two gunshot wounds and the fall, so the homeowner felt forced to euthanize the bear to end its suffering.” The homeowner fired a third shot and called 911.

Many people underestimate the power of the common .22 rimfire Long Rifle (LR) cartridge. The cartridge is ubiquitous. It is the most purchased and shot cartridge in the United States.

Approximately seven billion .22 Long Rifle cartridges are produced annually for the U.S. market. A visit to a local Walmart a week ago showed Federal Automatch .22 LR available for less than $23 for 325 rounds, or less than seven cents per cartridge. Seven cents may seem high to those who remember when .22 LR was widely available for less than a cent per cartridge. When we adjust for inflation, 7 cents today is equivalent to about 4.4 cents in 2005. It is about as low (in constant dollars) as .22 ammunition has been since 1910. Inflation is an insidious destroyer of the value of money.

On ranches and farms, the .22 LR is often used to butcher large animals or to euthanize dying animals to reduce suffering. Many deer have been poached with the ubiquitous .22 LR. The cartridge is relatively quiet. If shots are fired inside, a person outside may not realize a shot has been fired because the walls of an insulated home act as a giant silencer/suppressor.

All bears die, just like all animals. Young bears have a very high mortality rate, usually from the teeth and claws of an adult bear. Bears must learn to respect human habitations.

In the past, any bear that wandered around human habitations was shot. They were often shot with birdshot to prevent them from being killed if humans did not want to harvest a bear immediately. Bears quickly learned to avoid human habitations to survive. Today, bears are so overprotected that they are shot in homes because they have not learned to avoid humans like the deadly predators that we are. Bears that have learned to enter human homes should be shot. There are plenty of young bears to take their place. The young bears only need to escape the claws and jaws of adult bears for three years to be able to fight and defend their own territory.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, served on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the concealed carry course in Arizona for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was achieved. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in military research, development, test and evaluation.

Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten

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