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Knox County Man Pays
$1,126.50 for Killing Bear

Frankfort, KY (October 21, 2004) - A Knox County man charged with the June 17 killing of a black bear in his garden agreed to pay $1,126.50 in restitution and court costs Tuesday in Knox District Court.

Arvil Messer, of Sycamore Drive, Highway 1304, in Hinkle, will pay $1,000 in restitution to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and $126.50 in court costs in exchange for a dismissal of the charge of illegally killing a black bear. A charge of terroristic threatening of officers was amended to disorderly conduct and the fine suspended.

Kentucky Conservation Officer Bill Hamilton said Messer originally claimed he shot the bear because it was threatening him. But Hamilton said his investigation and the autopsy revealed that the bear was shot twice, first on the right side far back in the rib cage with the bullet moving forward and lodging between the front legs, indicating that the bear was moving away from Messer. It was shot again in the head at close range.

Hamilton said other witnesses sighted the bear in the area and their dogs chased it in the direction of Messerís property. He also said a neighbor tipped Messer by phone that the bear had been into her garbage and was headed in his direction.

Conservation officers Tom Land, Stacy Bryant and Ray Lawson were also on the scene and assisted with the investigation.

It is not legal to kill black bears in Kentucky, said Director of Law Enforcement Col. David Casey. We have a small but growing population of bears that is not yet capable of sustaining hunting. Simply seeing a bear on your property is not justification for killing it.

The large-scale regeneration of Kentucky forestland is largely responsible for the growing natural movement of bears into the Commonwealth from nearby states. Black bears originally ranged over most of Kentucky. But habitat destruction and continual human harassment nearly eliminated them from the state by the early 1900s.

Weíre seeing more and more bears coming back into the state, said Hamilton. We have a big problem with people feeding bears. Bears have a natural fear of people, but they can come to associate people with food. That usually spells trouble.

Black bears are returning to Kentucky on their own, said Wildlife Director Dr. Jon Gassett. We must learn to live amongst them, and that means being careful about leaving out scraps of food for pets, putting garbage out on the morning of collection instead of the night before, and feeding outdoor pets during the daytime.

Bears are a priceless piece of our wildlife heritage, he added. Iím glad to see they are back.



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