Bear Cub Killing Leads to Criminal Charge

Monday, May 31, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM PDT
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Bear Cub Killing Leads to Criminal Charge

A Tahoma man faces misdemeanor charges in the shooting death of a bear cub on Lake Tahoe's west shore, authorities said.   

 John Wilkinson is accused of shooting the animal in the neck May 21 and leaving its body in a ditch, said California Department of Fish and Game Lt. Richard Vincent.    

Charges against him include the illegal take of a bear, the wanton waste of a carcass, and failure to notify fish and game of the shooting. Each has a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.    

Wilkinson told El Dorado County sheriff's deputies that he shot the year-old black bear because it had attacked him, Vincent said.    

Neighbors in Tahoma notified law enforcement authorities after they saw what appeared to be the mother bear and another cub trying to fend off coyotes from the carcass, he said.    

"A major portion of the carcass had been eaten by the coyotes when we found it," Vincent told Truckee's Sierra Sun newspaper.    

Ann Bryant, president of the Lake Tahoe-based BEAR League, said locals are outraged over the shooting.    

"We know for a fact that bears don't attack people, and little 75-pound cubs would certainly not attack a person," she said.    

Ed Miller, a member of the Meeks Bay Fire Protection District board, agreed.    

"We love what we call 'our bears,' and we enjoy seeing them when we see them," Miller said. "To do something like this is outrageous and very sad."    

There is no home phone listing for Wilkinson in Tahoma. He is a former U.S. Coast Guard employee at Lake Tahoe.
 

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