What’s It Cost to Kill a Bear?

An article from the Cox News Service that was published in the State, the daily newspaper of Columbia, S.C., tells the story of a family camping trip gone wrong. You should read the article here. For those who don’t feel like clicking through, I’ll summarize:

1. A suburban Atlanta man named Chris Everhart, a former Marine who now works as a technician for AT&T, took his three sons on their first camping trip.

2. As the four Everharts were roasting marshmallows, a bear started sniffing around their food cooler. The youngest boy, 6-year-old Logan, picked up a shovel and went after the bear.

3. The bear abandoned the cooler and, growling, started coming toward Logan.

4. Logan’s dad grabbed a piece of firewood and threw it at the bear. The bear fell over. The Everharts ran and got into their truck. But the bear didn’t move. The bear was dead.

5. Campground officials came to investigate. (They were already in the area responding to a drunken man who’d tried to run down a bear with his car.)

6. And, finally: “Everhart was later issued a $75 ticket by the U.S. Forest Service for failing to store his food properly ‘to prevent access by wildlife.'”

I am guessing that the $75 ticket is, in most cases, a good incentive to get campers to properly stow their food. And I am guessing that Everhart was truly guilty of said infraction. But if you were the officer in charge of determining whether this man who fought off a bear to save his sons should get the $75 ticket, don’t you think you might have considered waiving the fee, just this once?

A little discretionary leeway, please?


TheQuitter

WTF? is this bear made out of glass? "Logan's dad grabbed a piece of firewood and threw it at the bear. The bear feel over... The bear was dead."

Really? Seriously, was this bear on his way out already? Perhaps from some disease or starvation? I'm not a bear expert, but how many animals just.. DIE when you throw a piece of firewood at it?

He should pay 75 dollars for lying about how he killed the bear.

tillerman

Sounds a bit of a similar situation to someone who gets into a traffic accident, nearly kills a member of his family, and then the police test him and find he is driving with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. In such a situation wouldn't you expect him to get charged with DWI?

The point is if you do something illegal and inadvisable and in doing so put someone else in severe danger, then you should expect some kind of punishment. Would the situation be any different if the kid who had been approached by the bear was someone else's kid?

nmontgom

If you let him go, then people will be hunting bears using their kids as bait just to have a dead one lying around in case the officials come by and try to fine them. :)

bertrecords

Wouldn't this family be safer in jail than in the National Park? I agree with tillerman (2).

blaisepascal

He got fined for creating the dangerous situation. However, he didn't get fined with killing the bear -- which he did because it seemed threatening to him and his children.

Bear season in Georgia isn't until the fall, so killing the bear would normally be a crime. They didn't charge him with that.

I can live with what happened.

egretman

Yes, there is something fishy about this story. Kill a bear with one toss of a piece of firewood?

Isn't it more likely that the drunk fellow that was reported trying to run over a bear most likely did hit the bear. The bear died later of internal injuries at Mr. Everhart's campsite.

Then he claimed to have killed the bear. Thus impressing his kids and getting his 15 minutes of fame.

He should be fined $200 for lying to his kids.

jftiv

"Discretionary leeway" is the first step towards corruption... I would argue that this is the perfect instance for enforcement. The large amount of publicity the bear-slaying-family-still-got-fined story demonstrates to a wide audience that the park police mean business. And hopefully it might tap into society's general unconscious thoughts about criminal behavior: No one is special. Even if you defeat a bear in hand-to-hand combat, you still need to pay the improper-food-storage-fine. Besides, it is possible that the family wouldn't have had the curious bear in the first place if they had stored their food properly.

Justice, as unbearable as it might seem, was served.

armynixon

I wonder what Stephen Colbert would have to say about this story.

adamfwilson

who cares about the guy killing the bear...I'm impressed with the 6 year old kid who went after the bear with a shovel.

that's gotta be the bravest (is that a word?) 6 year old ever!

ZH

I guess none of you have ever done any real camping or read the article. The firewood is not the little pieces of kindling used in the boy scouts or in childrens camps. Some of these pieces of firewood are the size of a small log, perhaps 1 foot long and 1-2 inches in diameter. A well hurled small log thrown at the head at short range can severely damage or crush even a bear's skull, and I have no doubt that an ex-marine and regular outdoorsman who keeps himself in shape could definitely throw a log hard enough for that. It almost definitely was not the drunk guy hitting the bear, since that would have left obvious marks on the drunk guys car, and probably would have crushed the hood (I guess none of you live in area with deer and seen what a deer can do to a car in a collision either).

JimP

I had a double bear incident in Yellowstone about 10 years ago. My girlfriend and I went for an overnight camping trip. We parked our car in the parking lot. There were some really small "beware of bears" signs, similar in size and tone to the "slow curve: 45 mph" signs you might see on an exit ramp, implying that there is no real danger but you should use a little caution and we're covered in case you do run into danger. We got to our campsite right around dusk and did not see the big metal boxes that you cuold use to store your food, so we tried hanging our food in the trees.

Well, that didn't work too well. A bear came by and pulled down the bag, then wasn't satisfied so came snooping around our tent. He pulled open the backpack and ate some toothpaste, and was grunting about. My girlfriend was panicking, but I was dead to the world, and was barely aware of the whole thing transpiring no more than 3 feet away from me. Maybe my snoring scared him off, as we had no more trouble.

But we had no more food, either. We still went hiking, and spent much of the day talking about what we would eat from the car when we got back. As we approached the parking lot, I could see stuff littered around the car, and thought we got broken into. We did, but by another bear (not sure if he was acting in concert with the other one, or maybe it was part of a gang). The bear had seen a cooler sitting in the back seat and had gone after it. He pried open the back door, busted a window, and tried to pull the back seat out to get at more food in the trunk. He ate everything, even drank a Coke, and did a bunch of damage.

The kicker was a $75 or $200 ticket from the Park Service along with a nasty note saying what bad people we were to have left food out.

Were we naive and stupid? Sure. But years of living in America with its necessary legal signs just deadened us to the odd sign that actually meant something.

I blame the trial lawyers.

Read more...

NilObject

Certainly he should have been fined. It is not alright to go killing animals that were only there because *you* messed up. This whole incident would have been prevented if the food was properly stored.

And the bear only became vicious *after* the kid ran after it with a shovel. Another instance where the parent was not in control of the situation where he should have been. My first instinct if I had a kid and had a bear around would be to keep him by my side *at all costs*.

I'm glad he got fined. My first reaction was, "Poor bear."

snubgodtoh

Remember the uncle in Gulf Shores AL. a few years back that went after a big bull shark that had bit his nephew's leg off and ended up bare-handedly killing the thing and retrieving the leg?

These two guys should arm wrestle, I got safe money on the shark guy.

suntzusjb

Only a moron fails to secure his food in bear country, not to mention securing his children. This was a black bear, not a grizzly. The only time a black bear becomes agressive is when you get between it and something it wants really bad. Not only did this moron let his kid do that, he praised him for it.

Obviously the son will grow up to be just like dad, a moron and a braggart.

stephanielee

As a follow-up idea to JimP's comment:

Maybe an economic study of the impact of trial lawyers and cautions signs on our awareness and pocketbooks, because we're calloused to such.

vinod

Only a biased parent would ask for discretionary leeway. He should be charged $750 instead of $75. Saved his son? FFS, he killed a bear. It's his fault the bear wandered there in the first place.

egretman

Some of these pieces of firewood are the size of a small log, perhaps 1 foot long and 1-2 inches in diameter.

That's not a log. That's a stick. And it ain't no way no how goin' to kill a bear.

egretman

Were we naive and stupid? Sure....I blame the trial lawyers.

You blame the trial lawyers for your stupidity? Great sarcasm. Great story. Thanks for the laugh.

talldean

I'm stunned the fine was so low.

Seriously, if it were the $5k+ fines for accidentally killing endangered critters, I could see them waiving it. For $75 and no dead kids, sounds like he got off amazingly light.

prosa

He pulled open the backpack and ate some toothpaste, and was grunting about.

Maybe the bear was just interested in practicing good dental health. Did he floss as well?