North Carolina Man Charged in Shooting Bear

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John Caplinger, a Jackson County resident, shot and killed a black bear in a tree. He told N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officials that he was scared for his children. The bear had been in his yard and had bitten into a bucket of chicken feed and dog food. According to wildlife officers that was not enough reason to kill the bear, he was not in the process of harming anything when Caplinger shot it. Caplinger shot the bear with two rounds from a .20 gauge pump shot gun.

Caplinger was charged with taking a bear during closed hunting season. If convicted, he must pay a state-mandated bear replacement fee of $2,232 and faces a fine of up to $2,000 plus court costs. His firearm was seized and he has a court date in July. Wildlife officials say if there is a bear in your yard, go inside and wait until the bear leaves. Make sure all bear attractants are put away properly. From The Asheville Citizen-Times.


groovy mike's picture

I don’t see a strong clear case here for either side.

I don’t see a strong clear case here for either side.  I can understand both points of view.  Poaching is unquestionably bad.  But defending your children is admirable.  What isn’t obvious to me is whether this bear had a habit of being in the area and was returning to the yard, or whether it was a first time visitor.  If it was the first time that he had seen the bear, then there is a stronger case for waiting for it to go away.  But if this bear was a problem bear that frequented his property, then the self defense (or defense of family) argument has some weight in my mind.  Mr. Caplinger may have over reacted.  But it doesn’t sound like a classic case of poaching since he informed the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission officials that he shot the bear and described the circumstances.  It doesn’t seem like he was trying to hide it.  But if he was and was ratted out by his neighbor (it’s not clear to me) then that builds the case toward deliberately unlawful behavior.  He may just have been over protective for his children.  Let’s hope that when he gets to court that they can sort out the details and use some common sense when deciding how much of a penalty he has to pay.  If he is ordered to pay the state-mandated twenty two hundred dollar bear replacement fee, that seems a reasonable compromise (even if the extra two thousand dollar court costs are added on), since if my children were in danger I'd gladly pay that much to make them safe.  Seems to me like he out to get his shotgun back though. Hopefully we’ll get an update on this case after his court date in July. Thanks for sharing the news, please keep us posted.

arrowflipper's picture

more to the story

I'd guess there's more to the story than we are reading.  I would be interested to know if the guy who shot the bear was a hunter or not.  The first clue to me that he was not was the fact that he used a 20 gauge on the animal.  If I were to have shot the bear, I would have used one of my rifles instead of a shotgun.  But then, maybe they do their deer hunting in North Carolina with a shotgun and slugs? 

If the guy was not a hunter and not familiar with animals, he may have been acting out of ignorance.  Lots of people have a healthy fear of bears and are truly afraid they might harm their children.  If this was the case, he was acting to protect his family.  My guess is that this was NOT the case.  I am guessing that since the law enforcement officers decided to charge him, they knew him well enough to know what he was doing.

It would be interesting to know how the law found out about the bear.  Did the guy call and tell them he shot it?  Did a neighbor call and let them know?  Makes a big difference in my mind.  It would just be nice to know the whole story.  Too bad Paul Harvey died; maybe he could have done a "Now you know the rest of the story" piece on it.  Interesting to say the least.


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Yeah, like it has been said,

Yeah, like it has been said, it does not sound like the bear was being any sort of a threat before it was shot.  Should have backed off and called the police/game wardens.

Too bad too, cause maybe the guy just didn't know any better.  It makes you wonder what happens when uneducated people are put in that situation.  By uneducated, I mean in terms of dealing with those types of situations, and what the proper step is to take. 

As hunters, we would know to back off, contact the proper authorities, and then keep an eye on it.  However, this guy chose a couple of shots from a 20 gauge shotgun.  Was he going overboard?  Who knows.  Like Goose said, maybe there is more to the story.  I do think that if the fish and game officers felt he truly was scared for his family, they probably would not have charged him.

The bear had bit into a

The bear had bit into a bucket of feed for chickens and dog food- that's a bear attractant. Then the bear was in a tree in the woods behind his house- I don't think he had to fear the bear. Personally I would've called wildlife officials to have them come deal with it instead of dealing with it myself, that's what they make the big bucks for . The neighbor called the wild life department, so I wonder if Caplinger would've ever contacted authorities or what he was going to do?

GooseHunter Jr's picture

After reading the articile I

After reading the articile I am not wondering iof there is a little vbit more to the story that they are not telling us.  usually when most people shoot some sort of animal i defense of the family I have not heard of the charging a person.  That is what makes me wonder if he tried to hide it and then got caught or if he has had some other sort of run in with the the Game and Fish there before.