“Man Faces Charges After Defending Himself from a Bear in His Own Yard”
Just as the founders and framers would have wanted it! Reason:
Richard Ahlstrand, of Auburn, Massachusetts, faces criminal charges after encountering a bear in his back yard and shooting the damned thing to avoid being mauled or eaten. Specifically, as noted at Reason 24/7, he’s charged with “illegally killing a bear, illegally baiting a bear, illegal possession of a firearm and failure to secure a firearm.” All of these charges, once translated from Massachusetts to American, seem to stack up to outrage that Ahlstrand didn’t make his yard completely inhospitable to animals that are rarely seen in the area, and then investigated a suspicious noise with a weapon in hand rather than cower under the bed. Worst of all, he actually defended himself when he encountered danger.
According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Ahlstrand had a 50-gallon drum of birdseed in his backyard, and this appears to be the basis of the “baiting”charge against him. Leaving the birdseed outside might be considered a foolish idea in an area where bears are known to congregate, but the same article quotes the police chief claiming that “bear are not common in Auburn” with the last such sighting about a year ago. So Ahlstrand shouldn’t have had birdseed because … ?
When confronted by the bear, Ahlstrand had a shotgun with him — in his own backyard, remember — because he’d heard a noise and thought he’d seen a bear the day before.
From CBS Boston:
Richard Ahlstrand told WBZ-TV he was stocking his bird feeder Friday night when a bear about seven feet tall and 300-to-400 pounds started chasing him.
That’s when he turned his shotgun on the bear.
“I didn’t have time to aim through the sights, but I aimed in the direction of the head on this thing and I pulled the trigger before it got to me. It just dropped,” he said.
Ahlstrand said he was carrying the shotgun Friday night because he thought he saw the bear in his yard Thursday.
The police version from the Telegram:
Chief Sluckis said the bear is believed to have been attracted to a 50-gallon drum of birdseed Mr. Ahlstrand had in his backyard. He said Mr. Ahlstrand told police he heard a noise outside and felt in fear of his life.
“He went back inside, retrieved a shotgun and decided to shoot the bear,” Chief Sluckis said. “Obviously we believe if Mr. Ahlstrand was truly in fear for his life he would have stayed secured in his home and would have called the police.”
— Who are under no legal obligation to defend you. And of course, you could have always avoided trouble by staying safely hidden inside, in your closet, or under your bed. Or if that doesn’t sit well with you, I suppose you can fake your period, vomit on the predator, or use a whistle to alert others to your plight, so that they, too, can choose to lock themselves up inside their homes and tuck themselves away in a closet or under a bed.
In both the Telegram and CBS articles, “authorities” are quoted as saying they don’t think the bear was a threat to people. I suppose it’s possible that the black bears in Massachusetts are a kinder, gentler breed than the one that mauled a man near Payson, Arizona, last June. Or the one that tore up a woman in the same area in May. And then there was the bear that did a job on a woman near Pinetop …
This isn’t to say that bears are usually dangerous or should always be shot — not by any means. And the fact that something wild like that still roams free in so many places makes the great outdoors that much more interesting, so far as I’m concerned. But anybody who finds himself being chased across his yard by a big, toothy bear has good reason to feel a bit of concern and to take some action.
As for Auburn Police Chief Andrew J. Sluckis Jr. … He should be sent out at night, unarmed of course, to make friends with some of those big, fuzzy creatures that are “not a threat to people.”
Ridiculous. He’s a police chief! As such, he has more rights than you do — and when it’s his ass on the line, you can be damn sure he’ll shoot first and ask procedural questions later. And that’s because he’s not going to arrest and charge himself for making a judgment call on how best to protect his person from an imminent bodily threat. And why would he? He’s a law enforcement professional. And only professionals should be allowed to defend the safety of both themselves and non-professionals, else we have anarchy, with every last guy with some land and a shotgun taking it upon himself to shoot every last bear that enters his yard and starts chasing after him with ill intent.
Sometimes the preservation of social order requires that a few unfortunate people follow the law and die in service of maintaining the rules. At least, that’s what professional law enforcement people seem to often to believe — some pigs being more equal than others.