Saturday, July 17, 2004

He killed bear, now defends self


Wildlife agency takes animal's side

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

MAYKING, Ky. - Terry Brock walked out his back door early one morning and came face to face with a black bear.

Startled, the Letcher County man jumped back inside, asked his wife to call the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife for help, and began banging on the wall of his mobile home, hoping the noise would frighten the wild animal away from his terrified dogs and horse.

When that didn't work, Brock, 36, of Mayking, said he grabbed an heirloom rifle and fired.

Now, Brock faces a criminal charge of illegally killing the bear on June 2, and the local prosecutor is left with a case that could test how jurors in eastern Kentucky perceive the shooting of black bears in residential areas.

"The jury would have to decide whether this person acted in a criminal nature," said Letcher County Attorney Harold Bolling. "There's a big difference in killing something for sport, and killing something if the person thought his life or his livestock was in danger."

One other such case is pending in Knox County, where a man allegedly killed a bear in his garden because it continued coming toward him after he fired a warning shot.

Black bears thrived in the area more than 100 years ago, before logging and over-hunting led to their disappearance. Over the past 20 years, they have been venturing back into Kentucky from forests in Virginia and West Virginia. Now, for the first time in more than a century, Kentucky has a self-sustaining black bear population and residents of the mountainous region along the state's eastern border are having to learn to live alongside them.

Brock, who has pleaded not guilty to illegally killing the bear, said he couldn't believe he was accused of a crime.

"The bear was taking swipes at our dogs," he said. "I thought our horse might break a leg trying to get out of his stall. The kids were going to pieces."

In the chaos, Brock said he grabbed the 30-30 caliber rifle and stepped back outside in time to see the bear to stand erect.

"I had always heard that they were ready to attack when they did that," he said. "So I shot it."

Bolling said more details about the case will come out in a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Letcher County District Court.

Mark Marraccini, spokesman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said conflicts between bears and people would be unlikely if people stopped leaving food or household garbage where bears can get it.

"It's not legal to kill bears in Kentucky," Marraccini said.




TOP STORIES
2 charged in cross burning
Cholesterol guidelines called tainted
Laughter, loyalty, love link club
Cast your vote, get a flu shot
Chemo wafers used to treat brain tumor directly

IN THE TRISTATE
Round 1: Fox cleared by county election board
U.S. says city owes it $3.95M
Jim Beam sues city for road project
Local news briefs
Milford schools to capitalize on development project
Mom whose teen killed tot to stay in jail 5 more months
Neighborhood briefs
Incumbents hold fund-raising lead
Young offenders learn how crime affects victims
'Flunking' teachers sue testing firm over errors
Seven Hills mayor delivers good news himself - door-to-door
Ban sought in highway shootings case
Sgt. Chips to Mr. Chips: Soldiers sought to teach
Cutting in line is OK, and parks tell you how
Mason judge wants review
Polk Run Creek still a problem for area residents
Public safety briefs
She's guilty of $561K theft

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Pianist awarded NAACP medal
Prayer vigil a tradition at St. Ann's

LIVES REMEMBERED
Jacqueline Brown, teacher
Cindy Schmuelling Bake-Off finalist

KENTUCKY STORIES
He killed bear, now defends self
Louisville Democrats in a snit over Kerry, bin Laden bumper sticker link
Office seekers muddle finances
Murder suspect arrested in N.C.
Cold Spring to add homes
Kentucky fails to see joke
Kentucky news briefs
Bones unearthed at building site
Workplace Spanish class reflects Hispanic influx
Outages leave many bracing for warm weekend