Steamboat Springs The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office will file charges this morning against Kent Nightwalker, who admitted he shot and killed a bear July 20 near his home in downtown Steamboat Springs.
District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham said Nightwalker will be charged with three misdemeanors. They include waste of wildlife, for not taking the bear into his possession, a charge normally associated with hunting; reckless endangerment, for discharging a firearm in public; and disorderly conduct, which prohibits anyone but peace officers from discharging firearms in public unless they are lawfully engaging in target practice or are hunting.
"I didn't endanger anybody," Nightwalker said Wednesday. "Nobody was around. The people next door (in the direction of where the shot went) were gone. I didn't recklessly do anything.
"It was me and the bear for 45 minutes. There was nobody coming or anything. I checked it out two or three times. I checked it out two times, and the third time I went out there."
Nightwalker said upon seeing the bear in the alley behind his Eight Street home, he slammed his car door, ran inside and called 911. The dispatcher reportedly told him to go inside and wait until the bear left the area. Call logs show a call was placed from Nightwalker's phone number at 9:59 p.m.
Nightwalker said the shot he fired was intended to scare the 200- to 300-pound male bear away from the alley. Nightwalker said he shot toward the ground near the bear's feet to scare it away after police didn't respond to his 911 call.
A second call from a neighbor, reporting the dead bear, came at 10:13 p.m.
The Division of Wildlife investigated the shooting. Officer Danielle Domson declined to comment until the charges were released publicly today.
Deputy District Attorney Ross Prindle said in addition to the DOW report, a report from the Steamboat Springs Police Department also was evaluated to determine whether charges should be filed.
Prindle said the disorderly conduct charge carries a penalty of a $250 to $1,000 fine and three to 12 months in jail. The reckless endangerment charge carries a penalty of a $50 to $750 fine and as many as six months in jail. And the waste of wildlife charge carries a penalty of a $100 fine and points assessed against a hunting license.
"I wouldn't say they're unfair," Nightwalker said about the charges, "but I would say that you have to abide by the laws of a community, a city. You have to. I was ignorant. If I had it to do over again, I would have called them (police) and called them and called them until they came to my house."
After the charges are filed today, Prindle said Nightwalker would be issued a summons for his first appearance in court. He said that appearance likely would happen in the next several weeks.