This bear was shot by Kent Nightwalker earlier this year in downtown Steamboat Springs. Nightwalker was sentenced this morning in Routt County Court, but there is still a dispute about whether he must pay the taxidermy costs for the bear.

Photo by John F. Russell

This bear was shot by Kent Nightwalker earlier this year in downtown Steamboat Springs. Nightwalker was sentenced this morning in Routt County Court, but there is still a dispute about whether he must pay the taxidermy costs for the bear.

Man who shot bear receives no jail time

Taxidermy costs remain unresolved in Nightwalker case

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— Kent Nightwalker will not serve jail time for shooting a bear in downtown Steamboat Springs - and he wants to keep the bear's remains if the Colorado Division of Wildlife insists on sticking him with a taxidermy bill.

Nightwalker, who was sentenced Wednesday morning in Routt County Court, reached a plea agreement stipulating that he pay $1,100 in fines plus surcharges, spend a year on unsupervised probation and perform 56 hours of community service. The plea agreement stipulated that a six-month jail sentence would be suspended.

Nightwalker shot a bear July 20 in the alley outside his Eighth Street home.

He originally was charged with three misdemeanors: 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.

Nightwalker pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and hunting in a careless manner. At the end of the hearing, Routt County Judge James Garrecht acknowledged the statewide notoriety the case received.

"You sure became a public figure overnight on this one," he said.

One issue related to the case remains unresolved. After the shooting, the DOW took the bear to B&L Quality Taxidermy in Steamboat to be skinned, prepped and tanned and to have its skull cleaned. The DOW sent Nightwalker the bill.

"Our position is, if Mr. Nightwalker pays for it, he should be able to keep what he's paying for," Nightwalker's attorney, Kris Hammond, said to Garrecht. "If the DOW wants it, they can pay for it."

Reached by phone after the hearing, B&L owner Bob Reinier said the bill totaled about $600. DOW officer Danielle Domson said the agency did not intend to relent on the bill.

"We're definitely going to demand that he pay for the taxidermy costs," Domson said after the hearing. "The bear would have gone to waste otherwise. : We feel strongly that he needs to pay to take care of that bear."

Domson also said that Nightwalker does not have the required license to take possession of the materials. Garrecht agreed to give the two sides 90 days to resolve the issue. Nightwalker didn't make any statements at the hearing.

Nightwalker admitted to shooting the bear in late July. He told the Steamboat Pilot & Today that he was loading his car in preparation to leave for a business trip when the bear startled him in the alley and went after a trash can. Nightwalker said he slammed his car door, ran inside and called 911.

The dispatcher reportedly told him to remain inside and wait until the bear left the area. Call logs show that the call was placed from Nightwalker's phone at 9:59 p.m. on July 20.

After police didn't respond to his call, Nightwalker said he decided to try to scare the bear off himself.

He fired a shot, which he said was aimed at the ground near the bear's feet. A second 911 call from a neighbor, reporting the dead bear, came at 10:13 p.m.

The DOW investigated the shooting in cooperation with the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

Comments

Boatperson 5 years, 2 months ago

eugenics |yoÅË jeniks| plural noun [treated as sing. ] the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.

Nice stretch there, need a life to watch you ski.

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Boatperson 5 years, 2 months ago

Man-up Mr. Nightwalker and take your punishment.

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Martha D Young 5 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone have an issue with the person who recklessly broke the law by leaving non-bear-proof trash containers in the alley? What Kent did is senseless; what the bear did is the nature of bears; what the humans did who left their trash in a manner that the bear could get to it was tragic for all involved.

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jk 5 years, 2 months ago

Dychmen, I'm not sure what you know about guns after that statement. Shooting a high powered rifle in town is very reckless to say the least.I don't care how close he was, he was lucky he didn't kill anybody else. Lost in this is the fact the DOW needs to start doing their job!!Problem bears need to start being relocated. They are learning and passing on bad habits. This problem will only increase if it is left unchecked, and before long we will be reading about someone who was mauled in town taking out their trash.

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bandmama 5 years, 2 months ago

"If Mr Nightwalker pays for it, he should be able to keep what he is paying for, if the DOW wants it, they can pay for it" Hmmmmm, if Mr Nightwalker had not acted to recklessly...no one would have to pay for it.

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untamedShrewd 5 years, 2 months ago

Correction Nightwalker: you're not a public figure. To be one you'd have to have a higher threshold of public activity. You instead may be an "involuntary public figure" as the result of publicity. However, that publicity is not based on false defamation of your actions or statements. You were reckless. You did shoot a bear. You did use a firearm in a dense neighborhood. And you did lie about the time frame by stretching 15 minutes to an hour. There is no defamation in regards to your actions and statements, because you did kill a bear. Nothing false about that.

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blinger 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe this clown can make a Nightstalker suit out of it. GIVE ME A BREAK!! This guy is a real peice.

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JustSomeJoe 5 years, 2 months ago

You can kill a person with your car or truck in Routt County and not have charges filed against you. It seems Nightwalker's punishment somewhat fits in our judicial system. Kill a person with a car, get a traffic ticket and five points off your license. Fire a gun and kill a bear downtown, get fined and probation.

Shrew - you realize the Judge made the "public figure" comment, not Nightwalker.

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Kevin Dyche 5 years, 2 months ago

He killed a bear! Thank God the bear didn't kill any kids or dogs before he was stopped. He shouldn't get jail time, in fact the punishment seems a bit harsh to me. I don't know what you city folk know about guns, but shooting a bear up close isn't exactly reckless. He should have called animal control, but he is defiantly not a criminal. Lighten up folks.

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mavis 5 years, 2 months ago

STEAMBOAT ADVERTISING!! For a mere $1100 fine you can hunt a bear AT NIGHT, OUT OF SEASON, IN CITY LIMITS and you can probably keep the skin after DOW takes it to the Taxidermy for you!! (simple $600 bill) WOW what kind of a message are you sending to the responsible citizens, hunters and kids???

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untamedShrewd 5 years, 2 months ago

my bad well then...the judge needs to do read up on the judicial system and its terminology. Nightwalker is by no means a "public figure"

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Brian Kotowski 5 years, 2 months ago

Dycheman:

Read Nightwalker's own account in the original Pilot story - http://steamboatpilot.com/news/2009/j...

He claims to have been 10-20 feet away and was trying "shoot into the dirt." He was trying to miss, in other words (from 20 feet away) and hit the bear by mistake. THAT'S believable.

He's either a lousy shot with no training or experience and has no business with a rifle, or a liar, or both.

I wouldn't be comfortable having this clown living in my neighborhood.

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Mike Forney 5 years, 2 months ago

It is so sad that so many people who know Kent Night Walker have been silent about the man and his positive contributions to the community. Kent is not a "clown." What he did was wrong, dangerous and the height of poor judgment. He has paid the price for that with a small fine, but incredible humiliation. On the other side of the ledger is Kent's work for years bringing clothing, food and materials to the poor and unfortunates in Native American reservations. The large, white Night Walker van that Kent and his wife fill from local donations travels frequently to these remote locations -- and the costs are borne by the Night Walker family. Kent is an active member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and gives tireless to the vestry and youth programs. He is also a genuinely nice person who I am proud to know.

All of you who castigate Kent have probably done something stupid during your life. I know I have. Most of us don't get caught and, hopefully, we learn from our mistakes and go on. A few get exposed for dumb acts. Kent has been in a very small group who find themselves exposed to the max on the front page of the local and regional newspapers.

Let's stop casting stones and let the man go back to what he has been doing for years - serving others and giving of himself to the less fortunate.

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Brian Kotowski 5 years, 2 months ago

Mike -

Kudos to Nightwalker for his good works. Good works, however, do not exempt him from being trashed for something most people regard to be breathtakingly stupid and dangerous.

I have been impressed with Don Imus' refusal to agree with his defenders, who assert that his good works entitle him to some slack for the "nappy headed hos" remark, and all the drama that ensued. Imus rejects that assertion utterly, and acknowledges that he alone has earned & deserves the slings and arrows.

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MsRed 5 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Forney-

Thank you for reminding us there are two sides to every story. Every one makes mistakes in life. Let's move on.

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kathy foos 5 years, 2 months ago

I dont recall in the 35 years that I have been in the valley ever hearing of anyone being mauled or killed in town by a bear.He was in the mood to kill it and he did.Good thing that a stray bullet didnt maul or kill the people nearby.It seems he is arrogant and unremorsefull.Isnt that bear evidence now and he should be unable to display it as his trophy?

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bandmama 5 years, 2 months ago

Dycheman-shooting a bear up close when your life is in danger, is not reckless. Standing in a populated street, at 10 pm at night and shooting randomly is reckless. The police had been called, and Mr Nightwalker choose to go BACK outside and confront the bear. That is reckless. The account that he wasn't even aiming at the bear (questionable) and that he hit square in the head is sort of scary to those of us that may have been walking down the street at that time. Mike, although Mr Nightwalker may do some wonderful things, the fact is he acted in a careless manner and could have killed a human. His actions that night are in queston, not the rest of his life. He made a reckless decision and needs to held accountable for it. No one should be paying for the taxidermy bill but Mr Nightwalker. Perhaps with his good standing at the church, if he is unable to pay for it himself a collection could be made to help him. If he is refusing to pay and money is not the issue, then shame on him. Let him "pay" for his mistake then donate the skin to a reservation, someone may appreciate it.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 2 months ago

There was some lightning the other night. The good Lord was careless, but nobody got hurt.

Is this the PETA website or what?

bandmama - He has been held accountable by a court of law. He was sentenced by Judge Garrecht.

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bandmama 5 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Duke, you are right, but I still think he ought to pay for the skin.......

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kathy foos 5 years, 2 months ago

600.00 is cheap punishment for taking the law into your own hands,maybe the wildlife service should keep the bear as an exampe of how not to handle a bear in town?Then this bears loss of life would have more meaning as maybe no one else will do this,his life was worth living to him and now its all over.,He(Mr. Nightwalker) has paid his price ,we all make mistakes in life and forgivi.ng is best for everyone,he is just very lucky not to be facing worse charges for hurting a human.

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Kristopher Hammond 5 years, 2 months ago

The SP&T really teed this one up well: "Man who shot bear receives no jail time" Instant public outrage: He need s to take responsiblity! He needs to be held accountable!

He confessed to the Pilot & Today. He cooperated fully with the DOW. He pled guilty in court. Isn't that "taking responsibility?" What more responsibility could he have taken? He was sentenced by the court. Isn't that "being held accountable?"

He did it. He admitted it. He pled guilty. He was sentenced. What more do you want?

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jk 5 years, 2 months ago

I want to know when the DOW is going to start taking a little responsibility in doing their job of "Managing Wildlife".

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kathy foos 5 years, 2 months ago

You know what?Those bears were here way before you,if there is any managing by Dow that insnt getting done,its not putting him behind bars for wasting life of that bear,yes I think hunting bears is ok by hunters who dont waste the meat and do it for a reason . This guy barely falls short of being a murderer,go back to Detroit where ther are no bears and you dont get irritated by a newspaper that has the right to say what they please, YOU get over it.

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kathy foos 5 years, 2 months ago

One thing that Mr. Nightwalkers Lawyer shouldnt do is arrogantly demand, that the sentance (about the cash, 600.00,) not be paid when he was already billed out by the DOW!Ill bet Hammonds bill was way ,way more than the fines)Any way how dare him call out the authorities on whether Mr. Nightwalker gets to keep the bear?Your lawyer is the one that caused this back lash by trying to intimidate a sentance.Unheard of!its disrespectful to the court,do drug dealers get their dope back after its all over?Chris,you started this discussion by giving weird advice to your client. If he would have paid it and said SORRY TO THE PUBLIC,this forum wouldnt be here.It would be over and your clients apology would have been enough to the public.

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Brian Kotowski 5 years, 2 months ago

shawant:

I'd be willing to cut him some more slack if he hadn't been such a weasel about it. His account of the incident strains credulity, to say the least:

  1. He ran for Daddy's gun because he "trying to leave town." So he shoots the bear, the coast is clear, he's free to leave: and he doesn't. He puts off his important journey until the next day and goes to bed. WhatEVER.

  2. He positions himself "10-20 feet" from the animal, and despite the fact that he "couldn't even see it", he takes the shot. At something he "couldn't even see". Wouldn't you LOVE to have this tool and his high-powered rifle living next to you and your family? I know I would.

  3. He was trying to shoot "into the dirt." Aiming at the ground, in other words. And kills the bear with a shot to the back of the head. Daddy's rifle must've been loaded with one of Oliver Stone's magic bullets.

  4. He says it was "me and the bear for 45 minutes." The call log has him reporting the bear at 9:59. His neighbor reports the dead bear 14 minutes later.

That he so freely contradicts himself in a public forum indicates he's none too bright, and a liar to boot. Mr. Nightwalker poses much more of a threat to public safety than any scavenging bear.

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Robert Noel 5 years, 2 months ago

I am a legal hunter and resent the fact that he illegally took an animal and is not getting punished to the full extent. Normally DOW can take your guns, trucks or anything used to take an animal illegally. The growing bear problem seems to be directly related to the lack of bear hunting. Used to be spring hunts with baiting and dogs allowed. Now we just have humans baiting into trash and homes. DOW needs to revive the bear hunts. Make sure you people in that neighborhood keep your wild dogs and cats under control so the don't end up stuffed or skinned for scavanging in trash.

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blue_spruce 5 years, 2 months ago

in terms of the bear overpopulation you are right; there is definitely a growing problem. I was thinking about this the other day when I was walking my dog, and it's a tricky issue. Obviously you can't have hunters near residential neighborhoods which is unfortunately where the problem is. Ideally you'd cull the population from above minimizing the risk to nearby human population. I know that this is a little "outside the box", but I bet the we could get sarah palin to do the dirty work! Seriously, everyone knows she's an avid aerial hunter, and ever since she quit the governor's job she could probably fit us into her schedule.

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bandmama 5 years, 2 months ago

shawant- please read Sep post carefully. I believe it reflects how some of us view the careless lack of judgement. It really didn't seem to me that he had much of a choice but to plead guilty. And, yes I do feel that the sentence was a bit on the light side.

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seeuski 5 years, 2 months ago

blue_spruce, maybe what Steamboat could do is have you go up into bear territory with your trash can and feed the bears so the bears will dine in their own kitchen. That would save Sarah Palin the time she needs to count the millions she is making from her new book that went #1 seven weeks before it's release date. oooooohwee.

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Boatperson 5 years, 2 months ago

Wait, I've got it!

I'm human so I can do whatever I want and it's always the fault of the animal. Yeah, that's it!

I as a Human can multiply at will with reckless abandon, and those damn animals, can you believe it, they think they can just multiply wherever the food is. What are they thinking?

I am Human, therefore I am right!

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blinger 5 years, 2 months ago

I am going to dress up my kid as NightStalker for Halloween.

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wellbeing 5 years, 2 months ago

the obvious solution is that Nightwalker pays for the taxedermy and the skin is used in schools and Science School to educate children about bears, bear behavior and the obvious responsibility our community has to our wildlife. let's turn this unfortunate and heartbreaking incident into something positive.

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kathy foos 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh Yah Martha Lee, Its naturally the neighbors fault,Maybe they should be sent to Siberia or something.

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