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Officer kills bear after it apparently charged at him

Published: Jun. 30, 2010 at 10:35 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2010 at 10:46 AM CDT
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WALKER, LA (WAFB) - A police officer who came face-to-face with a Louisiana black bear claimed he had no choice but to pull his weapon and fire on the animal Tuesday night. The bear did not survive the encounter.

Cpl. Rusty Jenkins with the Walker Police Department was called to what he thought was a stranded vehicle near police headquarters. Jenkins soon learned it was actually an accident scene in which a woman had hit an animal with her car.

"The driver advised she did not know what she hit, just that it was large and black," said Jenkins.

He went through the woods to have a look. Not far from the road, he found an injured bear that weighed about 350 pounds and stood about 6' tall. When the bear was hit, it apparently ran back into the woods about 25 feet, which is where Jenkins later found him.

"It was coming out of the bush. It wasn't walking. It jumped out of the brush and was coming at me. I thought my life was in danger and fired a shot," Jenkins explained.

Maria Davidson manages the largest carnivore program for the state of Louisiana. According to her, while it may be uncommon for a black bear to pop up in Walker, there are hundreds in Louisiana, especially this time of year.

"It's the height of breeding season for Louisiana black bears," Davidson said. "So, the males are trying to cover as many miles as they can in hopes of finding mates."

Davidson says Jenkins was fortunate to be equipped with a weapon to handle his brush with the bear.

"When someone is put in a situation where there is a close encounter, that catches a person and the bear off guard and both are surprised and the bear is injured. I can tell you the situation can be highly charged," Davidson added.

This was not the bear's first run-in with the law. It was captured as a nuisance animal back in 2008. Davidson said it was given a checkup and later released.

Over the weekend, Assumption Parish sheriff's deputies caught another black bear on camera around the Oaks at Belle River subdivision. It was killed by a car while crossing the highway.

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