Steamboat Springs 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.