Deputy accidentally kills bear; 2 cubs now without mom

By Kathryn Reed

A deputy not knowing he was shooting live ammunition and a tenant with more than a month’s worth of garbage contributed to one bear being killed Friday night in Stateline and two cubs being orphaned.

“The odds are against those cubs,” is what Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife told Lake Tahoe News.

This is because normally the cubs would be spending the winter in a den with mom. It’s possible they will know to find a den, but it’s also possible the youngsters – albeit they are 60 pounds – won’t know what to do as winter arrives.

However, Healy said if the bears can be captured and they are healthy, they would probably be taken outside the Lake Tahoe area so they would be less likely to become garbage bears. The other possibility is taking the bears — if caught — to a rehab place that knows about hibernation techniques.

Chuck Arnold, who owns the trailer where the bear and her cubs were foraging for food, today began the eviction process for his tenants.

Arnold said he received a frantic call from his tenant about 9:30pm Oct. 28. They also had called the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. He said the people had been living there three months and gave him no reason for storing garbage in the garage for more than a month.

“It’s unfortunate we lost a bear. She was part of the community,” Arnold said. “My issue is with the resident. I want to remind people not to hold on to trash in bear season – that there are consequences.”

According to the sheriff’s department, deputies scared off one bear and treed two. Two rubber-projectile wildlife control rounds were fired at the bears, but to no avail.

A deputy, whose name is not being released, thought he was firing a rubber bullet. Instead, it was regular rifle ammo. The wounded bear then had to be put down.

“In this incident, in the darkness the deputy incorrectly stacked his rounds by mistake, thereby making the second round fired out of the shotgun a rifled slug rather than a rubber-projectile wildlife control round,” Sgt. Jim Halsey said in a press release.

The sheriff’s office will be conducting an investigation.

Healy on Monday afternoon said a game warden is still waiting to speak with the sheriff’s department.

His department set a trap for the cubs, but instead an adult bear was trapped. She was released higher into the mountains.

Healy said it’s been a quiet year for bear nuisance calls – mostly because for the past three winters the abundance of moisture has meant enough food for the animals. Plus, people are slowly figuring out the appropriate ways to deal with their garbage so bears are not attracted to the rubbish.

The number of bear calls for the Northern Nevada area has not been tallied to day, but in 2007, there were 1,500 calls about problem bears.

Bears begin hibernating between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Right now they are loading up on calories – taking in up to 30,000 a day so sustain them through the winter. Normal is 3,000 to 5,000 calories a day.

“If there is not much of a snowpack, they will go into semi-hibernation. They will wake up, follow a garbage truck and then go back sleep,” Healy said. “That is why we always root for a big snowpack.”

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Comments (41)
  1. orale says - Posted: October 31, 2011


  2. mich says - Posted: October 31, 2011

    This is absurd!! Cops need to be responsible and held accountable for their actions!!! What is this was a person??? Come on…WTF!!!!

  3. nandan says - Posted: October 31, 2011

    Thank God he wasn’t firing into a crowd of (human)protesters with the “rubber bullets”. Its the stupid people who are so careless with thier trash or think its cool to feed and watch the bears and wildlife who need rubber bullets!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Steven says - Posted: October 31, 2011

    This deputy should lose his badge, permanently. And this bear killing should go against the hunt total. And the tenants, what do you do with idiots?

  5. Steve says - Posted: October 31, 2011

    Sloppy work like this is not acceptable.

  6. Charles Arnold says - Posted: October 31, 2011

    Our community of Tahoe Shores is deeply saddened by this tragic event. Residents including children in the park have been traumatized by this event. We are all doing are part to not have this ever happen again. As for the irresponsible residents who caused this tragic event they were served with immediate eviction papers and a petition is being signed by several residents to make sure they know they are not welcome in our community. They have shown NO remorse for what has happened which makes this tragic event even more devastating. The community of Tahoe Shores has been actively trying to build a more positive reputation and has a fantastic resident base of wonderful people. Please do not judge other residents because of these irresponsible residents….parents who stockpiled over a month’s worth of garbage right near their minor daughters bedroom and a fully stocked refrigerator! They do not deserve to live in Lake Tahoe and this in the general consensus of our neighborhood.

  7. Linda says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    If an officer of the “law” cannot distinguish between “rubber” bullets and/or real ammo, he needs to lose his badge. That in my opinion does not constitute someone that can handle stressful situations. I am heartbroken regarding this tragedy.
    As well, The tenants should be evicted and fined.
    And, I agree with the other comments that this should count toward the bear hunt, which is another tragic consequence of people not doing the right thing….ridding their home, yards, et al of trash.

  8. Eric Taxer says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Seems like it’s time for the community to consider a designated bear conservation area so that we can avoid future tragedies. Check out and Two examples of places where folks (locals and visitors) can be easily educated about our local wildlife, and it affords a place to protect “problem” bears. Sure beats a bear hunt….

  9. Jenny says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    So sad. Thank you for speaking on behalf of your neighborhood Mr. Charles. If someone lives next door to a house with that much garbage (months of it piling up), it must have been a horrible stinky–stench. I’d like to see a well-publicized & easily memorized phone number for people to call to report situations such as open dumpsters or anything that tempts bears. It’s people walking around by foot who know something is wrong in their neighborhood, and follow-up can be quick. That is really scary about the gun error.

  10. Unknown says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    This incident is inexcusable! How is it possible that we allow someone to become a cop and use firearms when they have a high school education? This officer could not tell the difference between a slug and a bear round? I can tell you the difference…a slug is red and a bear round is white. I’m not even an officer or have much experience with guns and I can tell the difference! This person should be terminated asap. Who knows what else he has done “accidentally” or what can happen in the future. Even if it was an accident what if it had been a person? Whether it be a person or a bear it should be thoroughly investigated with extreme consequences. This officer does not deserve to be apart of law enforcement!

  11. Tahoe K says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Seems like some on here are quick to accuse, I know JT and I know it wasn’t him, so know your facts ALL your facts before you start calling people out…. This entire situation is sad and I’m sure will be delt with accordingly

  12. Mark Johnson says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Does this mean that the last female bear has now been killed in Nevada, which would end the bear hunting season for this year?

  13. KnowBears says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    This is very sad. I hope many things are learned from this event.

  14. John says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    No Mark, unless that deputy applied for and was issued a tag for the bear by the Nevada Division of Wildlife.

    Under your logic, which is a stretch calling it logic, but anyway; should we ban driving because 6 sows have been hit by cars?

  15. Elizabeth says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Really?? A trained deputy doesn’t know the difference between rounds??? Really??? Oh, well maybe he wasn’t trained. So, maybe he shouldn’t have that job. Come on Douglas County Sheriff – there are a lot of people out of work that know the difference between rounds and could qualify for that job. Dump the jerk and hire someone with a brain.

  16. Steven says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    12 bears have been murdered so far in the hunt. None of them were problem bears, ones that get into garbage, break into houses or have had human conflicts. All were “good” bears. How is murdering these 12, 5 females, going to stop the bear problem in Tahoe?
    “They get a little bit of fear of people in them (from being hunted) and hopefully they won’t come in contact with people,” Wildlife Commissioner Scott Raine, former chairman of the nine-member board, said at the time. “It might prevent some from being euthanized.”

    Is this guy an idiot or what? How do the bears get a fear of hunting? Missed shots? Being wounded? What? Most are shot from a distance by a long range rifle, they don’t have a chance to learn anything. Maybe we should hunt these commissioners and see if they learn anything. (rubber bullets-make sure you have the right one in your gun)

  17. James says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    “How is it possible that we allow someone to become a cop and use firearms when they have a high school education?”

    It’s easy; the requirements to be a peace officer say all that’s needed is a HS Diploma. Don’t like it? Write your congressman and get the law changed.

    Would the possession of a college degree have prevented this? It’s doubtful. Would you feel better if the deputy that shot the bear had a post graduate or doctorate degree? Just because one has a degree does not make one inherently smarter than the next person. If you need an example, check the education and actions of the congressman you’re going to write to; or just observe the actions of the folks on the city council.

    It’s a sad accident; they happen. It’s part of life; move on.

  18. admin says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    This from DCSO Sgt. Jim Halsey:

    “The deputy’s name is Ryan Young.

    “No, deputies are not put on administrative leave for dispatching an animal.”

    Kathryn Reed, LTN publisher

  19. Patricia Banner says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    If all those bears being murdered in Nevada are females(!) there are going to be a lot of orphan bears in trouble this winter. They are killing females??!!!

  20. Steven says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    So deputy Ryan Young won’t be put on leave for murdering the bear, I hope they at least took his guns away before he accidentally “dispatches” a human.

  21. Where is the turnip truck says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Never knew there were so many vegetarians in this town. Up to 1700 bears are dispatched in CA during bear season.
    Some of you folks need to lighten up.

  22. Louise Lipps says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Have a zoo take care of the babies, I am not a fan of zoos, but their Mother was murdered we don’t want to see the babies die!

  23. John says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Steven, maybe check a dictionary for the definition of murder.

  24. John says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Patricia, I am a hunter and I have a bear tag. I could have killed about 6 so far this year, but have let them walk. I am just not sure I want to deal with 200 pounds of meat this year with the other game I have harvested. But let me assure you, I know what I am going to kill and I know if there are cubs. Because of ethics and the law, I will not kill a bear with cubs. I also dont use dogs because it is against what I feel is fair chase.

    Now if you are a vegetarian than I guess I understand the criticism. But if you eat meat then you are a hypocrit.

  25. TahoeLady says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    Nobody remembered that LT Wildlife Care DOES rehab bear cubs??? AND they release them into the wild (back country) in the spring… and teach them how to hibernate, too!
    Very easy to catch those two cubs: just put out some stinky garbage near where their mother was killed by that idiot who is a cop… The cubs will be hanging around that area, crying for their mother. (Yes, bear cubs do cry.) Even CA Fish&Game allows cubs to be rehabbed until they grew to 100 lbs. So, let’s hope and pray that the cubs will be caught.
    AND – this makes it 6 female bears killed in NV so, the hunt should now STOP!

  26. Steven says - Posted: November 1, 2011

    John, fair chase? How is hunting a bear or any other animal fair when you use a gun? Go after them with your bare hands and then it is a fair chase. What a great powerful he-man you must feel you are? Looser!!

  27. kevin says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    its just a bear killem all

  28. youhavegottobekiddingme says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    the problem is in the policy. What department on the planet allows officers to mix non-leathal with leathal ammo in the same weapon. That is exactly how this accident happened. Most departments paint thier non-leathal shotguns with either bright orange or white and never load real bullets into it.

  29. Where is the turnip truck says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    I wonder if all you “murder” types are equally vociferous regarding unborn human beings. Just curious.

  30. John says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    Youhavegottobekidding, that is rediculous. So a deputy is supposed to shoot a bear with a non-lethal round with no way to kill the animal if it charges? So you think a bears life is more important than a human life?

    You are refering to crowd control, where humans are on the receiving end of the non-lethal round. Not a bear.

  31. orale says - Posted: November 2, 2011


    This is a tragedy for many reasons. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to love our local wildlife, especially mamas.
    But I don’t think name-calling is going to get us anywhere.

    This needs to be looked into to figure out ways to ensure it (bullet mix up) doesn’t happen again. As for the trash-hoarders, I’ve got no (nice) words so I’ll end this here.

  32. Steven says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    Looser ? I should have been more careful, as that deputy should have. At least I didn’t kill anything.

  33. John says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    So Steven, are you a vegetarian?

    Here is the point. According to NDOW biologists and USFS wildlife biologists there are about twice the number of bears in Tahoe that the natural forage can support. This year no big deal, there is more than enough, but remember 2001? So when there is a complete failure of mast production, bears cant fatten up except for the garbage they get.

    Now lets pretend everyone is responsible and puts there garbage away. What happens to that 50% of the bear population that doesnt get enough to eat?

    Steven I am sure you lament 7 billion people on earth. Can you consider wildlife to be overpopulated?

    Bears arent people Steven.

  34. Fred says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    Steven, I am tired of listening to you and other peoples stupid bearhugger comments. Bears are not people, they have no rights, get it.

  35. Fred says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    Elizibeth, the deputy did nothig wrong except shoot a bear, leave it alone.

  36. John says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    Well Fred the deputy made a mistake I havent made since I was 12. I stacked with slugs and buckshot when I was a kid, and I screwed it up. But he should have known that the third shell in is the second to fire. Of course that assumes 1 in the chamber first.

    But you are absolutely right, bears are not people. In my house bears are what people eat.

  37. James says - Posted: November 2, 2011

    Exactly right, the problem is with the policy.

    First, why are police officers and deputies responding to bear calls? Regardless that some might consider it a public safety issue, fish and game wardens or wildlife agents should be the agency to respond.

    Second, if the public feels the need for the cops to respond to bear calls, then send at least two. That way if the bear charges the cops after being hit by rubber pellets, the other deputy can have lethal force available.

    Oh and when your family, loved ones or business is a victim of a violent crime and the cops couldn’t respond because of a bear call; remind yourself you wanted the cops to take care of the bears. When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.

  38. john j says - Posted: November 3, 2011

    Most people who live in Lake Tahoe year round LOVE our bears and don’t desire to eat them.

    If done legally there is not much one can do…so although we might feel some are “losers” they are following the law.

    I personally feel those who hunt bears have to compensate for “lacking elswhere”..make ‘em feel more manly.

    Using them for food? Come on! If you were REALLY poor, living off the land…ok,understandable, but I highly doubt that.

    Those who say “it’s just a bear, get over it” and “they have no rights”…well, apparently they have some rights or there wouldn’t be a limit to how many can be hunted.

    Makes me a bit saddened people could be so cold. Glad I am not a family member of those who could look that beautiful animal in the eyes and kill it. Wouldn’t want to upset Dad…he is cold as ice.

    And I would bet the officer who shot that bear feels horrible about it. If self-defense…do what you have to do, but in a situation like this…no body wins…except the mobile home park for getting rid of idiots!

  39. Nancy says - Posted: November 7, 2011

    Facts: the mother bear is dead…the officer needs to be retrained (treated as a cadet)…two cubs are motherless. No one knows where the cubs are and the authorities somehow think they will magically know if the cubs are healthy and then if healthy construct an artificial den in the woods for the cubs.

    Qestion: How are the cubs supposed to find this den…and like it…and stay there for the winter.

    The officer is at fault? Yes. But look at the intelligence of those in higher positions.