Bear shot and killed by Sunny Brae resident (caution: disturbing images)

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

SUNNY BRAE – A bear was shot and killed outside a Sunny Brae house Tuesday night. The black bear, a young male, was seen in the street at about 9 p.m. by the home's resident, Matthew Hartman, outside a low wire fence bordering the front lawn.

The bear corpse before wildlife officials arrived. Submitted photo

The bear corpse before wildlife officials arrived. Submitted photo

Hartman said he fired a single shotgun round at the bear from his front yard, striking it in the upper chest. The shot didn't immediately kill the animal. Mortally wounded, it wandered about 100 paces up Beverly Drive to a clearing at the end of the dead-end street, where it collapsed and died.

Hartman said that the bear was "down here at my fence, trying to get my dogs."

"The bear's been a nuisance for the last couple of years that I've been here," Hartman said. "Usually my dog manages to scare it off."

Hartman rents the house on Beverly Dr., where he lives with his four children and two dogs, Abby and Bear. Another tenant lives with two children in the house's converted garage residence.

Matthew Hartman prepares to assist DFW wardens with loading the bear carcass into a truck. KLH | Union

Matthew Hartman prepares to assist CDFW wardens with loading the bear carcass into a truck. KLH | Union

The next morning, Hartman reported the incident to the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) as well as the City of Arcata. Wednesday afternoon, Warden Matthew Renner, another CDFW agent and Hartman used ropes to lift the the animal's carcass into an agency truck and haul it off. A small patch of fresh blood in the dirt marked the spot of the bear's final demise.

Ropes were used to lift the carcass into the truck bed. KLH | Union

Ropes were used to hoist the carcass into the truck bed. KLH | Union

Renner said the smallish black bear, perhaps 4 1/2 feet long, was a "boar," or young male.

CDFW Lt. Brent Chase, a former Arcata Police officer, said the agency was investigating the incident. He said that the initial report indicated a "depredation issue."

"You can shoot a bear that's trying to attack your property," he said, noting that dogs are considered property.

It was not initially clear where the animal's body was taken. Chase said that the agency doesn't conduct autopsies on dead bears as it does with mountain lions, per CDFW policy.

Neighbors, some of them angry at the killing and the use of a firearm on their street, disputed Hartman's claim that the bear had been attacking. They said that bears, along with deer, raccoons and even mountain lions are not uncommon in the heavily wooded Sunny Brae canyon. Like raccoons, the occasional bear usually turns up at night to prowl through garbage bins and devour any pet food left out.

The bear loaded for transport, its blood on the tailgate and flowing down the truck bed. KLH | Union

The bear loaded for transport, its blood on the tailgate and flowing down the truck bed. KLH | Union

"It's just kind of heartbreaking," said resident Megan Greene. "Anyone who has moved to this neighborhood for the past 10 years knows that there's a bear presence. It's not a problem if you take care of your trash."

According to Greene and several others, Hartman's house is a garbage-infested eyesore. The neighbors say they've filed four nuisance complaints with the City of Arcata, as well as two aggressive dog complaints over the larger of Hartman's two dogs, the one ironically named Bear.

Blood marks the spot where the bear died. KLH | Union

Blood marks the spot where the bear died. KLH | Union

The complaints couldn't immediately be verified, but a Public Records Act request for the information has been filed with the city, which has 10 days to provide any pertinent records.

Wednesday, material appearing to be household garbage was strewn about the area of the house, which is the last one on the dead-end street. Discarded food wrappers, plastic bottles, clothing, toys and other debris littered the front yard and gutter out front of the house, while more items could be seen among the foliage across the street. Just up a forest trail from where the bear died, a plastic garbage bag has been ripped apart, apparently by some kind of animal, its contents littering the area.

A household trash trash bag apparently ripped apart and gutted by an animal near where the bear died. KLH | Union

A household trash trash bag apparently ripped apart and gutted by an animal. KLH | Union

The material's origin is not known, but neighbors allege that some of the loose garbage came from the house Hartman's family lives in.

"You don't leave trash in your front yard and take it out on the bear," Greene said.

Another neighbor who asked not to be identified claimed to have been dealing with the trashy house for years. "I pick up their garbage all the time," the neighbor said. "That bear was no threat to anybody."

More garbage in the foliage across the street from the shooting site. KLH | Union

More garbage in the foliage across the street from the shooting site. KLH | Union

Chase said the preferred method for dealing with a nuisance animal is to call CDFW before taking action. An agency representative would be sent to the location, and if unsecured garbage was found, the resident would be advised to clean it up to minimize the attraction to any wild animals. "We don't just give a guy a permit to kill a bear," Chase said. "They have to take measures."

The Arcata Municipal Code (AMC) Title IV, Chapter 2, Article 2, Sections 4117 through 4121 defines allowed firearm use in Arcata. The AMC prohibits the discharge of weapons within city limits, with exceptions for police officers, firing ranges, hunting waterfowl in certain areas and "by any person while lawfully engaged in protecting life or property."

Violations are deemed a misdemeanor. APD Sgt. Todd Dokweiler said any decision on prosecution for the shotgun use "would come down to intent."

Dokweiler said Arcata Police would be involved "only on the periphery," with CDFW taking the lead on the investigation. He said APD would assist if CDFW asked for assistance on matters outside the primary scope of their inquiry.

Dokweiler said Hartman called both DFW and, at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the City's Environmental Services (ES) dept. ES notified APD, which referred the matter to DFW, which by then had been called by Hartman.

The bear in repose. KLH | Union

The bear in repose. KLH | Union

CDFW's website says that California is home to an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 black bears. It wasn't immediately clear whether the boar was a  northwestern black bear (Ursus americana altifrontalis) or the California black bear (U. a. californiensis).

Consequential encounters with bears and other wildlife are not uncommon along Arcata's forest/urban interface. Experts recommend securing food and garbage, as bears possess an acute sense of smell, seek out easy sources of nutrition and, once habituated, will return to areas where food is readily available.

Wildlife professionals often caution the public that "a fed animal is a dead animal."

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Authors

Related posts

11 Comments

  1. Willliam Wallace said:

    “According to Greene and several others, Hartman’s house is a
    garbage-infested eyesore. The neighbors say they’ve filed four nuisance
    complaints with the City of Arcata, as well as two aggressive dog
    complaints over the larger of Hartman’s two dogs, the one ironically
    named Bear”

    Is Hartman’s life worth a plugged nickel?

  2. quicksilver80 said:

    Nah – they retroactively issued him a depredation permit! …even though he told the reporter that the bear was OUTSIDE his OUTER FENCE.

  3. Ford Prefect said:

    “Hartman’s house is a garbage-infested eyesore. The neighbors say they’ve filed four nuisance complaints with the City of Arcata…”

    I live on a nearby street and can attest to the fact that this house was a neighborhood nuisance and has been for years. Their dogs are another story: I’d bet the ranch that the bear was rummaging around in the garbage that typically litters their yard and not after the dogs at all but that when the dogs went apeshit (as they do at the least leaf drop — also a problem in the neighborhood) he assumed otherwise and rather than bring his dogs in he chose to shoot this poor animal.

    As it is I am saddened — and furious. Had they been responsible neighbors and kept their place picked up, I am 100% certain that “our” bear would still be alive. I hope he is cited and fined the maximum.

  4. 2016 Draft Options said:

    The owner reads as a “white trash”.

    The city allows garages to be illegally converted into rental units which increases white trash probabilities.

    Converted garages reduce onsite parking and forces more vehicles to park on streets.

    White trash people create white trash property creates white trash streets creates white trash parks and trails creates…….white trash trashers.

  5. humboldthung said:

    Dbag is a Cowboys fan what do you expect.

  6. 2016 Draft Options said:

    The last pic looks like it is from the corner of the sunnybrae shopping center where the old gas station turned coffee shop was located. Hard to tell though.

  7. 2016 Draft Options said:

    Doubt the bear was trying to get at the dogs on the other side of fence.

    Damn adult with a gun shooting a bear like a cop kills a black man.

  8. B Yourself said:

    Great, you bait the animal in with your trash and take his life when he comes for it, what is wrong with you? Maybe you should go live somewhere that you aren’t such a detriment to your surroundings

  9. SolarBozo said:

    What a jerk! Provides a nuisance that attracts wild animals then shoots them.

  10. LT_Armstrong said:

    We have had GENERATIONS of bears in our neighborhood. They live here, after all. Sick person to kill the animal, when a few shouts works very well.

  11. ralph metsersnich said:

    it’s redneck pieces of white trash shit like this that give humans a bad name. He should be prosecuted for cruelty to animals.

Comments are closed.

Top
X