For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email

Rob Douglas: Bear killing appears senseless


Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at

Find more columns by Douglas here.

Folks often ask me how I decide what to write about each week. Truth be told, no matter how many important, interesting and timely subjects are hanging like ripe fruit for the picking, I use the same standard each week.

I call it the "noggin" standard.

Specifically, when I wake up each Thursday morning and go in search of my caffeine fix, it's a good bet that - among all the conundrums banging around in my noggin - the one that first fights its way to the north side of my frontal lobe is the one that finds life in Friday's Steamboat Pilot & Today. This week is no different, except my cranial capacity is more overwhelmed than ever.

Whether it's our local community organizer's disturbing need to play big man on campus by throwing a county commissioner - along with generations of "ignorant" residents of the Yampa Valley - under the Community Alliance's bus; the long-hoped-for news that the Space Station will re-open as the Space Station so many knew and loved; the alleged Jamaican lottery scam that took root here like an invasive weed; or the fast-approaching decision on Steamboat 700, I could have written a column each and every day this week without breaking a sweat.

Still, even with all those subjects fermenting, the one that escaped my bean - only to slide south and stick in my craw - is last week's unsolved killing of a bear in an alleyway in downtown Steamboat Springs.

In case you're the one soul in Routt County who hasn't been following this whodunit, here's a bit of background.

According to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, at about 10 p.m. July 20, Towny Anderson, who lives next to the driveway where the bear was killed, heard a gunshot. Anderson looked out his window and saw the slain bear lying on the ground next to an overturned garbage can. Anderson didn't see who shot the bear.

Jim Haskins, area manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, told the Pilot & Today that his officers are treating the killing as a crime because, "It's not like a situation where someone was protecting human life or property or anything like that." While the bear was known to raid trash in that vicinity, Haskins said, neighbors didn't believe the bear was a big problem.

In spite of what Haskins thinks about how residents in the neighborhood felt, someone decided to dispatch the 200- to 300-pound adult male bear to Yogi Heaven on a one-way ticket.

And that's a shame.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not some tofu-eating environmentalist who thinks humans should seek forgiveness for our carnivorous ways. Au contraire, one of life's joys is deciding whether the roasted flesh of critter du jour - preferably bloody rare - goes best with a merlot or a cabernet sauvignon. One look at my visage is proof positive that cholesterol-laden burgers and filets, from every category on the food chain lower than homo sapiens, regularly cross the threshold of my overly worked oral cavity.

But the killing of the bear in a downtown alleyway - absent a valid self-defense claim - is even too much for me.

Let's be clear. This is certainly not a case of a rancher protecting his livestock, as every rancher has the right to do. And, given the reported facts, this doesn't even appear to be a case of a city homeowner protecting property. This appears to be a case where someone was tired of a bear doing what a bear is going to do - look for food scraps in our trash - and killed it.

I hope I'm wrong.

I hope there's an innocent explanation for why someone would needlessly shoot and kill a bear.

I hope there's an innocent explanation for why someone would not immediately report that he or she had killed the bear.

Most of all, I hope the individual involved will find the courage to step forward and accept responsibility.

That might make an unbearable killing more bearable.

To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail


steamboatsprings 7 years, 9 months ago

Great choice Rob! It is very sad to see a bear killed without a reason and I hope that they find the person who did it. The community organizer and the Community Alliance is doing a great job roasting themselves. Their effectiveness at confirming everything that was said in the videos and their disingenuous statements is simply stunning.


Scott Ford 7 years, 9 months ago

We can never under estimate the adrenaline rush associated with killing a fellow predator. This reaction is hard-wired deep into the psychic of our human brain likely due to tens of thousands of years of having to contend with bears for resources when we too lived in caves. Who knows?

I think this incident will turn out to be a case of a local likely one that has lived here for a very long time likely an avid hunter. They saw the opportunity to kill a bear and took it. What were they thinking? They weren't! I am sure that there will be a feeble attempt to justify their actions. i.e., "I got tired of picking up the trash this bear scattered around."

Without question this person screwed up. There should and will be consequences of their actions. Our challenge as a community is not to over react forgive our neighbor for being a numnuts and move on.

Let's just hope we do not show up as a part of a sociology lecture series video at Iowa State University as an example of a community that take pleasure in needlessly killing bears. We can only hope.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 9 months ago

Excellent points as always Scott! The last thing we need is another sociology lecture. I am still getting used to being scientifically classified as ignorant by a respected professor. Being average was much more comfortable. That said I'd rather be ignorant in Steamboat than smart many other places. You are a much smarter guy so I am sure you were excluded in the footnotes of his research paper.


Scott Ford 7 years, 9 months ago

Well it looks like I guessed wrong about the profile characteristics of the individual that shot the bear. He is not an avid hunter, but he is a long time resident. Using a high powered rifle to frighten away an animal in a populated area is a bit over the top.

I think a "brick" of Black-Cat fire crackers which are readily available just across the border in Wyoming would have done the trick. Good for Kent Nightwalker for coming forward and taking responsibility for shooting the bear. It was an error in judgment. Let him who is without even the slightest error in judgment (past or future) cast the first stone.

As to why I was not personally referenced in Steve's research paper - it is because of a total lack of credibility in addition to being a part of the ignorant Steamboat Springs masses. I didn't even get the "who done it" in the bear murder mystery right.

Like Kent, Steve is guilty of an error in judgment. He is not the first nor will he be the last relative newcomer to the area who has been guilty of the infamous version of, "What you people fail to understand" speech. I think Steve has learned (albeit the hard way) that Steamboat Springs is not populated by ignorant people. If the problems we are working on were simple we would have figured out the answers to them eons ago.

On important issues we are passionate about we all have agendas. The Community Alliance and more specifically Steve was not as forthright about the focus of his agenda as he could have been. This was his error in judgment.

Recognizing this error in judgment, there is nothing wrong with saying,"I screwed up and I am sorry." I think if Steve, like Kent were to admit to his error in judgment he would find a community more than willing to forgive and move on. Steve can have a voice as an individual on community issues; however, failing to admit this error in judgment may likely preclude his voice from being heard.


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