Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that most charges have been dropped against a man who used a homemade spear to kill a young bear last month. According to KTUU, 49-year-old David Tandler was living in an illegal homeless camp in a forested section of East Anchorage when he confronted a yearling black bear and later killed it with a thrown spear. The spear was constructed out of a carved wooden branch and an attached machete. Tandler later claimed to wildlife officials that bears had occasionally visited the camp and made the people living there nervous, so they started building spears in case they needed to defend themselves. Tandler also added that he killed the bear when it started coming towards his children, who were also living in the camp.
After interviewing witnesses, Fish and Game officials determined that Tandler was justified in killing the bear, but it was the camp’s fault that the animals were drawn there in the first place.
“They were attracting bears into their area because they were leaving food out irresponsibly. They had the bears coming in several times,” said Fish and Game biologist David Battle. “Whether someone is homeless or someone is out camping in the wilderness, we don’t want to see people leaving food or cooking right next to their tent.”
Battle added that the small homeless community made no attempts to secure their food or trash supply, so the bears kept coming back. When police and wildlife officials were investigating the case, a large sow in the area appeared and was persistent in getting at the camp’s food. Officers eventually had to fire rubber bullets toward the bear to scare it off. Battle says that bears are difficult to kill with primitive weapons and does not recommend spears for bear defense, although he did note that Tandler was either particularity lucky or skilled in his throw.
“(The injury) was kind of far back,” Battle told Alaska Dispatch News. “It was surprising to me it went down so quickly. Usually, an animal hit as far back takes a lot longer to go down. It must have hit an artery.”
Tandler was cited for negligent feeding and charged a fine, but was allowed to keep his five-foot spear. The bear carcass was confiscated by the department.
Authorities say the camp had been ordered to vacate before, but the denizens there ignored the notice to vacate. Following the bear killing, local police say they redouble their efforts on moving the camp away from the area, where it will only see increased conflicts with bears.
You can see an interview with Battle below:
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