Man Pleads Guilty To Shooting Grizzly

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Bear Hunting Magazine

Randall Sharp of Noxon, Montana appeared in court in Sanders County, Montana and pled guilty to the charge of hunting during a closed season. In October, Sharp was cited for shooting and killing what he thought was a black bear that he said was getting into his trash. The bear turned out to be a grizzly bear. The charge was for shooting a grizzly bear when no hunting season is in place. Sharp did not possess a black bear license at the time.

On October 20, Sharp called the Sanders County Sheriff Dispatch to report that he shot and killed a bear behind his house and asked that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks contact him. FWP Warden Sergeant Jon Obst was notified by Sanders County Dispatch. Obst went to Sharps residence that day. Sharp showed Obst the bear, and told him that he shot the bear when it returned to get into his trash. When Sharp saw that the bear wore a collar and appeared to be a grizzly, he had called the sheriffs dispatch.

Obst identified the bear as a grizzly and removed the bear that night from the residence. After an investigation, Sharp was cited on October 28 for a single misdemeanor charge in Sanders County Justice Court. This single charge was based on his diligent efforts to contact FWP officials by phone and through the sheriffs office to report what had just happened and his acceptance of responsibility for his actions.

In his recommendation to the Judge, FWP Warden Jon Obst noted that Sharp was not cited for a felony because he did not purposely and knowingly shoot a grizzly bear, and because Sharp immediately reported the incident. Obst added that Sharp was honest and forthright with his answers during the investigation and did not try to make any excuses for his actions.

Justice of the Peace Donald M. Strine fined Sharp $535 and ordered him to pay $2,000 in restitution. Sharp will also have to attend a hunter education class and a youth hunter education class and speak to the students about target identification. Sharp received a sentence of 60 days in jail, suspended on condition that he meets the other requirements. His hunting privileges are also suspended until the requirements are met.

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