Man fined nearly $1,000 for shooting a black bear in his backyard

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PONTOTOC COUNTY, Okla. -- Residents in Pontotoc County, between Ada and Byng, don't typically have to worry about bears invading their property.

"We've seen bears before but not here," said Jeff Dulin, who lives nearby.

That is, until last week, when an unlucky black bear was caught with his hand in the kitty food barrel.

"[The] Gentlemen spotted the Black bear through his screen door," Robert Fleenor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife said. "Bear took off running off in the yard, the guy got his rifle, ended up shooting the bear twice."

The shooter, 52-year-old Ted Burns, called the local game warden, who rushed down Old Byng Rd. and slapped Burns with a fine of $946.

It turns out that black bear season isn't until the fall. It's only legal to bear hunt in four Oklahoma counties - Latimer, Le Flore, Pushmataha, and McCurtain.

"The game warden and the assistant district attorney felt like the bear was trying to leave the scene, was no longer creating a nuisance," Fleenor said.

According to an affidavit, when asked why he shot the fleeing bear, Burns said that he didn't want the bear to return when his grandchildren visited.

Jeff and Louise live just down the road, and they are certainly not fans of black bears either.

"I don't like to play with them, I don't want them in my yard," Jeff said.

They stand behind their neighbor, believing he had every right to pull the trigger on the wild animal.

"If one is in on your property, harming your stuff, if you've got a gun, I think you oughta kill it," Jeff said.

We reached out to Mr. Burns, but he didn't want to speak on camera.

Officials with Wildlife Conservation would like everyone to know if you have a problem bear in your area, let them know. They have a humane way of moving them back into the wild.


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