Sunday, November 19, 2017

WY: Fisherman uses Pistol to Defend Against Grizzly in Park

On August 25, 2015, a 27 year old man was fishing in the Snake River about 3/4 of a mile downstream from the Jackson Lake Dam, in the Grand Teton National Park. 

He heard a noise and turned to see three grizzly bears approaching him from behind, a sow and two cubs. The fisherman was carrying a pistol and bear spray. The sow stood on its hind legs. He fired a shot into the ground near the bear. The three bears then left the area.

The angler said that the bear spray could not be used in the incident.

This appears to be an effective use of a pistol to deter bears, much in the same way the bear spray is credited with being an effective use when the bear has not injured a person. From 2015
On Aug. 25 a Snake River fisherman in Grand Teton National Park scared off a grizzly by firing his handgun. The grizzly, which had two cubs, stood on its hind legs but did not charge before the Star Valley resident discharged his weapon, aiming toward the ground.
“The fisherman was issued a mandatory appearance citation for discharging a firearm within a national park,” a Grand Teton park statement said. “Initial reports indicate that the fisherman had bear spray but was unable to use it.”

The fisherman was from Star Valley. He reported the incident to park officials, and was issued a mandatory court appearance citation for his trouble. Carrying and possessing loaded guns is legal in the park. Using them is not, except in particular circumstances. Using them for self defense is legal.  What constitutes self defense is decided in court. Here is the code from CFR 26 § 2.4. From

§ 2.4 Weapons, traps and nets.

(a) None of the provisions in this section or any regulation in this chapter may be enforced to prohibit an individual from possessing a firearm, including an assembled or functional firearm, in any National Park System unit if: 
(1) The individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm; and

(2) The possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the National Park System unit is located.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section and parts 7 (special regulations) and 13 (Alaska regulations), the following are prohibited:
(i) Possessing a weapon, trap or net

(ii) Carrying a weapon, trap or net

(iii) Using a weapon, trap or net
The violation, as far as I can determine, is for (b) (1) (iii), Using a weapon, trap, or net.  From chapter 36, Penalties shall be a fine or imprisonment up to six months.

In  2014, the U.S. Attorney's office for Glacier National Park dismissed all charges against Brian D. Murphy in another grizzly bear self defense case. In that case, Murphy shot the bear with a .357 revolver after his bear spray failed to stop the bear's charge.

The Missoulian reported that the penalty for discharging a firearm in the park was $500.

I searched a year of sentencing records from the Yellowstone Justice Center, at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming for any record of the case. I was unable to find any report the fit the grizzly/ fisherman pistol discharge event. Perhaps it was dismissed as well. A case that was dismissed would not show on the database.

No name was given for the pistol and bear spray packing fisherman.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spray it afterwards.... claim it didn't work, which of course it wouldn't.