Man reaches plea deal in Oregon bear cub shooting

AP News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2012 6:46 PM
Man reaches plea deal in Oregon bear cub shooting

A man has pleaded no contest to animal abuse after being accused of fatally shooting a 90-pound bear cub rummaging in his neighbor's garbage. But the case could be dismissed if he doesn't break the law for six months.

Blake Christensen of Florence said he reached the plea deal with prosecutors to avoid the costs and risk of a trial, The Eugene Register-Guard ( http://bit.ly/xvth4E) reported Friday.

The bear, its mother and two other cubs were in a neighborhood west of U.S. 101 in November when Christensen hit it with a pellet gun from 15 feet.

Christensen, 29, initially said he would fight the charge. He argued he was doing what coastal Oregonians do for protection when bears invade their property.

"He should have let the professionals do their job," countered city prosecutor Floyd Prozanski.

Prozanski, also a state senator, said shooting the cub put the neighborhood at risk from the enraged mother bear, which broke a fence running from the area.

Police likely would have tried to use an air horn to get the bears to leave, he said.

Police said a state police trooper initially investigated and decided against recommending charges against Christensen. State law allows a person to kill a wild animal that is causing damage or is a public nuisance.

City police asked Prozanski to review the case. He charged Christensen with first-degree animal abuse _ a misdemeanor typically used to prosecute people who injure, neglect or kill pets and livestock.

A charge of violating an ordinance against discharging a weapon in the city limits was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com