Man who shot bear avoids charges
August 21, 2008
No charges will be filed in the shooting of a bear last month by a South Lake Tahoe man, El Dorado County Chief Assistant District Attorney William Clark announced Thursday.
The District Attorney’s decision was met with relief by the shooter and outrage by Lake Tahoe bear advocates.
“I’m relieved, of course,” said Danny Lukins. “Anything can happen when you’re under investigation.”
Lukins, 59, said he shot the bear after it charged him on the night of July 31 while he was cleaning up a neighbor’s garbage.
“I’m happy that the investigation pointed out that I wasn’t negligent,” Lukins said.
Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, was shocked at the district attorney’s office decision and said it would upset a lot of people.
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“How are we ever going to show the public bears deserve respect when we constantly toss them aside like its nothing,” Bryant said on Thursday.
The district attorney’s office reviewed an investigation submitted by the Department of Fish and Game stemming from the shooting.
Criminal charges under these circumstances require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Lukins did not act with a reasonable belief in self-defense, Clark said in a press statement.
“Based on the facts presented, there is no credible evidence to believe that Mr. Lukins was lying when he told investigating officers that the bear turned toward him to charge,” according to the press statement. “Mr. Lukins was about 28 yards from an adult bear when he fired once. The direction and manner he fired was not done in a negligent manner and there were no occupied homes in danger of being struck should he have missed his shot.”
After shooting the bear, Lukins called 911 and reported the incident, according to the press statement.
South Lake Tahoe Police officers responded but were unable to locate the bear. Lukins fully cooperated with both the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and the Department of Fish and Game in their investigations, according to the press statement.