Friday, March 10, 2023

Off Duty Police Officer Uses AR15 to Stop Bear in Connecticut

Image by Troy Nemitz, with permission. The bear which was shot had two ear tags.

On Thursday, May 12, off duty police Sgt. Lawrence Clarke, 55-years-old, had his property damaged, livestock killed, and grandson threatened by an aggressive black bear which had become habituated to people. When the bear proved to be resistant and unafraid of people, he was forced to shoot the bear to protect lives and property.

AmmoLand has obtained a copy of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection report of the investigation of the incident.

On Friday, May 6, 2022, the Newtown police department received multiple nuisance wildlife concerning a black bear matching the description of a known problem bear. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) was called for assistance. The bear was said to be easily identifiable because of ear tags.

On Tuesday, May 10th, at about 0830, Clarke, who is a Sgt. in the Ridgefield Police Department, noticed one of his chickens on his back deck. He went to the front of the house, and saw his chicken coop had been tipped over. He found he was missing three chickens.  Within an hour, he saw a large black bear near the coop. He yelled and ran at the bear to chase it off. For the next four hours, the bear was circling the south side of his property.  While Clarke was repairing his chicken coop, the bear appeared about 15 feet away. Clarke retrieved a starter pistol and fired twice to attempt to scare off the bear. The bear was not deterred until he began yelling and walking toward it.

Clarke had his wife call DEEP and report the incident, and that the bear had killed three of his chickens. DEEP told them to purchase an electric fence for the chicken coop. Clarke purchased a solar powered electric fence that day for $300.

The solar fence instructions are that it takes three days to charge. Clarke did not set up the fence.

On Thursday, May 12, at about 0900, Clarke's son and three year old grandson were outside in the front yard. Clarke's son noticed the bear about 30 feet away. The bear and his grandson were staring at each other. The son ran, yelling at the bear, to the grandson and grabbed the grandson. The bear stomped the ground, and the son ran inside with the grandson. Clarke went outside and yelled at the bear. The bear ran into the woods.  For the next hour, the bear kept returning to the chicken coop and pawing at it. Clarke kept going outside and yelling at the bear, causing it to run into the woods.  The bear returned and was on its hind feet attempting to pull over the chicken coop. Clark went outside with his Colt Match Target AR-15 type rifle. He walked toward the bear while yelling.  The bear slowly walked away. The bear was about 20 feet away and huffing and pounding the ground with its feet.  It was on all fours and about 15 feet from the chicken coop. Clarke yelled at the bear again, and it took one step toward Clarke, and Clarke shot it in the head.

The bear fell to the ground and started convulsing. Clarke stepped up to the bear and fired six more shots to put it down and stop its suffering.

Because of the angle of the shots, Clarke had a good backstop of the earth and a dense woods behind the bear. The nearest houses were over a hundred yards away, on the other side of the woods.

Clarke was 55 years old when he was forced to deal with the problem bear. The bear had been creating problems for several years. It was a large sow black bear weighing 208 lbs. Some people in the area had labeled the problem bear "Bobbi".   From

By 2019, Bobbi “showed little to no fear of humans,” the report said. That was also the first time Bobbi was seen with cubs.

Between 2017 and 2021, there were 191 reported sightings of Bobbi, mostly in the Southbury, Redding and Newtown areas. The majority of the sightings involved Bobbi damaging bird feeders and chicken coops and killing numerous chickens, according to a report from DEEP.

That is a lot of people whose property and lives were disrupted by the problem bear.

The Ridgeway police put Sgt. Clarke on paid leave while the incident was investigated by DEEP.  An investigation was conducted by the Ridgeway department as well as the DEEP.

Sgt. Clarke was cleared of any wrongdoing. A provision of CT Fish and Game code allows for killing fur-bearing animals which are injuring any property. Bears are officially classified as fur-bearers. From Connecticut Fish and Game code:

No provision of this section shall be construed as prohibiting any landowner or lessee of land used for agricultural purposes or any citizen of the United States, or any person having on file in the court having jurisdiction thereof a written declaration of such person's intention to become a citizen of the United States, who is regularly employed by such landowner or lessee, from pursuing, trapping and killing at any time any fur-bearing animal, except deer, which is injuring any property,

The law appears to be clear. Bears are legally fur-bearers in Connecticut. A bear which is causing damage may be pursued, trapped, and killed if it is causing damage on land used for agricultural purposes.

This correspondent is not a lawyer. However, this correspondent has spent time serving as a game warden in two states. Nearly all states allow farmers to kill animals which are doing agricultural damage. There is some exception for endangered species.  Black bears are not endangered. Their numbers are growing. The laws vary from state to state. A Connectitcut attorney, described as an animal rights advocate, claims there is no provision in Connecticut law to allow killing a bear to protect property or people. From

Per Throckmorton’s interpretation, state laws make it illegal to “take” a bear in Connecticut, with no statutory exception for protecting yourself, livestock, or poultry against a bear.

The DEEP investigator had a different interpretation.

©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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