Steamboat Springs A Clark man pleaded guilty Tuesday to hunting in a careless manner related to the illegal July shooting of a bear in northern Routt County.
Routt County Judge James Garrecht ordered Bill Myers to pay $1,133.50 in fines and costs. Myers was not sentenced to any jail time.
After the hearing, Myers said he shot at the bear with his 20-gauge shotgun because he was trying to scare it from the neighborhood. He said if he was trying to kill the bear, he would have used his hunting rifle.
Myers said the bear had been a nuisance in the Willow Creek Pass Village subdivision near Steamboat Lake, and that it presented a danger to the children in the neighborhood.
“The potential for a serious problem was there,” Myers said Tuesday.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers began investigating the shooting after an anonymous person called Operation Game Thief, a tip line that offers rewards to people who report poachers. Officers used that tip to find the bear’s carcass, and they identified Myers as the shooter. The shooting is believed to have occurred July 13.
The bear was identified as the same one that had been tranquilized and got stuck in a tree in Old Town Steamboat Springs in May. The bear was then transported and released back into the wild near the Wyoming border. It made its way back south, where it was reportedly being a nuisance and getting into trash in the Hahn’s Peak area.
Myers said bears are occasionally seen in his neighborhood, but this particular bear had been in the area four or five times.
“Generally they encounter people and they leave,” Myers said. “He was a little different.”
Myers said the bear had gotten into his open garage, went through a bag of bird seed and ate rat poison. Myers thinks the rat poison might have contributed to its death.
Myers said after the bear went in his garage, it got into a neighbor’s bird feeder. It returned to his house later that day.
“I was getting tired of this,” Myers said Tuesday. “It’s the same bear, and we have kids in the neighborhood.”
He said the bear ran away after he shot it, Myers claimed to not know the bear died until later.
“I didn’t do it maliciously,” Myers said. “It was probably a bit of overreaction.”
Myers said he should have called Parks and Wildlife about the animal.
“I suppose in retrospect that’s what should have happened,” he said.
Hunting in a careless manner is a misdemeanor crime and carries with it 20 suspension points. That means Myers, who is a hunter and fisher, could lose his hunting and/or fishing privileges for up to five years.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com