Victor Peters, a retired Michigan wildlife officer living in Lady Lake, Florida, has seen some big bears in his time. Yet he said that the one that broke into his home last Wednesday was the largest he had ever met.
“I was very scared. I figured when I yelled it would take off, but it didn’t,” Peters, 64, told WFTV.
He estimated the bear to weigh about 500 pounds. It was not the first time that the bear entered his house; Peters believes that the same bear broke in last Tuesday by smashing through his windows late at night. At first, the retiree thought that the damage was from a burglar, but then he noticed the half-eaten bag of dog food. Peters said he thought it was wise to keep his hunting rifle close to bed from then on.
Sure enough, when the bear returned on Wednesday for the rest of the dog food, Peters found himself facing the animal head-on.
“It just looked right at me and started coming toward the window, where I was at, so that’s when I fired,” he said.
Peters generally hunts feral pigs with the rifle, but it was able to put the bear down on the spot. The homeowner said he fired a single shot into the bruin’s head from 10 feet away, and the bear died right there in the living room.
“I didn’t feel like I had any choice,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “If a bear is that bold around people, someone was going to get hurt eventually.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the shooting, but officials say that Peters seems to have done everything correctly to protect himself. Bear encounters at this time of year, when the animals are packing on the last few pounds of weight before winter, are not uncommon. Bear conflicts seem to be especially high in Lake County, which also boasts one of the largest bear populations in the state.
You can watch an interview with Peters below: