Police in North Adams, Massachusetts had a strange announcement earlier this week: don’t drink and hatchet. According to officers, an inebriated 60-year-old man was taken into protective custody on Monday night after he grabbed a dull hatchet and began chasing a black bear near his home.
“The North Adams Police Department is urging everyone to NOT chase bears through the woods with a dull hatchet, drunk. Yes that really did happen tonight,” the North Adams Police Department posted to its Facebook page. “We understand there are bears in the area. If you see a bear, LEAVE IT ALONE and call us. We certainly don’t need anyone going all Davy Crockett chasing it through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet. It is just a bad idea and not going to end well. It will however, certainly end you up in jail…which it did.”
The man was released on Tuesday and has not yet been charged, although that could change pending a police investigation.
ABC News 10 reported that the man has been identified as Brad Carpenter and that the chase occurred near the apartment complex where he lived. According to witnesses, Carpenter saw the bear running through a field and retrieved a hatchet from his car. The man then began chasing after the bear despite protests from bystanders and eventually drove the animal back into the woods.
Yet there may be more to the story than just drunken bravado. Richard Winters, who followed Carpenter to make sure he was safe, said the man may have started chasing the bear to protect some kids nearby.
“He was more concerned about keeping the bear away from the kids, kind of scaring it off,” Winters said.
Police later confirmed that Carpenter also claimed that was why he began harassing the bear.
“[He was] claiming he was trying to protect children,” North Adams Police Sgt. James Burdick told The Berkshire Eagle. “I would guess in his inebriated state he felt he was doing good.”
Baffled officers added that they were unsure of what would have happened if Carpenter caught up to the bear.
“We are still trying to figure out what his end game was. Any thoughts on what he was going to do if he did locate it? We would certainly like to hear because we have no idea,” the department wrote on Facebook.
Perhaps it is fortunate for Carpenter that the bear escaped. In any event, officials reminded residents to leave bears alone and to report aggressive animals to law enforcement. While harassing bears may seem like the right thing to do, keep in mind that these are powerful animals, and unless they are actively attacking someone, should be avoided.