WY: Off Duty Warden Shoots, Kills, Charging Grizzly

By Dean Weingarten

Grizzly Bear
Off Duty Warden Shoots, Kills, Charging Grizzly

Dean Weingarten

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- An off duty Wyoming Game Warden, Chris Queen, was hunting elk in the Little Sunlight Basin north of Cody, Wyoming, not far from the Wyoming border.

He was returning to his horses late in the day, about 6:30 in the evening. The sun had set 15 minutes earlier, but there was still considerable light.  A grizzly sow bluff charged Chris, then charged him full out.

From ktvh.com:

Queen told investigators he slowly backed away believing the sow would return to her cubs and move on.

But, after returning to her cubs, the sow exhibited even more aggressive behavior.

Suddenly, the animal lowered its head and fully charged.

Queen said he fired his rifle at the charging grizzly, killing it just a few feet from where he stood.

Because Chris is an Game and Fish employee, the Game and Fish department asked the sheriff's office and the Division of Criminal Investigation to step in, to prevent even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

It is not unusual for an agency with concurrent jurisdiction, to be asked to assume investigative responsibility for an incident when a member of a law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction is involved,” said Steward. “This maintains the integrity of the investigation and eliminates even the perception of impropriety,”

The off duty Game Warden, Chris Queen appears to be following the best available advise.  Tom Smith, Professor at BYU, one of the most quoted proponents of bear spray, said as much  in a Sports Afield article in 2012. He said that it would be foolish to drop a rifle to attempt to obtain pepper spray, while being charged.

From hcn.org:

Here’s the problem, according to Brigham Young University professor Tom Smith. In an interview with Sports Afield, he said, “If I’m actually out hunting and I have a gun in my hands, and suddenly a bear comes at me, do you think I’m going to lay the gun down and pick up bear spray? Are you out of your mind?”

In 2015, Smith reiterated that bear spray was especially helpful when you were *not* carrying a gun.

From jhnewsandguide.com:

Brigham Young University professor Tom Smith headed both studies. Smith urged hunters to carry bear spray in addition to their firearms. Guns can be cumbersome, he said, require precision to be effective and are less likely to be on someone’s person when they are needed.

“There’s no reason why you can’t up the odds for yourself and increase your chances of a safe trip by having a deterrent that will do you good when you don’t have your gun at the ready,” Smith said.

The problem, of course, is that it would seldom be prudent to switch from a rifle to bear spray.  While there are numerous proponents of bear spray, and there is no doubt that bear spray can work, it has been remarkably over-hyped.

Bear spray and  firearms studies do not use the same criteria for success and failure.  I contacted Dave Smith, prominent author and bear attack expert. We talked about the study Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska. Dave Smith told me that attempts to obtain the data set used for the Efficacy paper have been rebuffed. It is a red flag against the validity of a study when the authors will not release their data.

Chris Queen has been around bears for a long time. The first reference that I came across was his working on assessing grizzly bear damage, back when they were still considered endangered, in 1998.

The incident is still being investigated. This is a case where an outdoor professional, who has worked with bears a great deal, seems to have been  restrained in the use of deadly force. If the investigation shows the bear was killed only a few feet from him, It is likely he will be cleared.

In self defense cases, police officers commonly are taught to consider a person with a contact weapon, within 21 feet, to be a deadly threat. Bears have the equivalent of contact weapons on all feet and in their jaws.  They are typically as large, or much larger than large men. They are much faster.

If a large, strong, fast man, with knives in both hands is shot while running at someone from within 21 feet, it is almost certain to be justified as self defense.

Bear attacks are rare. Attacks by people are common. But when deadly force is credibly threatened against you, it is justified to use deadly force in response.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 11 thoughts on “WY: Off Duty Warden Shoots, Kills, Charging Grizzly

    1. Try as you might, it is not easy to talk a bear into not attacking you if that is what it has in mind. The fact that there were cubs there make the situation more urgent and action necessary. One swipe of the bear’s claws would put a person in a world of hurt. It is good that a different, neutral, police agency is doing the investigation into the matter.

    2. I’m sure they’d fine the crap out of him and maybe stick him with some jail time of he wasn’t one of the good o boys ( badge owner ).

      1. I believe you’re wrong. (Retired badge carrier). But both of us have only expressed opinions with no data to support our opinions one way or the other.

        1. Come on Vanns,

          I’ve got both friends and acquaintances who are deputies and highway patrol, and they know and admit, that when it comes to interacting with badges who are in certain situations, they get the benefit of the doubt compared to non badges!

          You can even quantify that being ‘on the job’ special treatment, during retirement: prison guards, probation officers, anybody who carries a badge on the job as it were, once they retire, they have more rights than there fellow citizens!

          Federal law stipulates that they can carry in all 50 states, so where is the reciprocity rights for non badges?

          Let’s all be honest with one another here shall we?

          1. I do not think that Brigham Young University professor Tom Smith take in to proper account the time needed to spray a charging bear; asses effectiveness or lack thereof, and switch to lethal weapon; accurately acquire the target; and fire. Bears do not give their opponents much time.

          2. I wasn’t being dishonest nor was I commenting on anything other than your assertion that a citizen might well have been charged and/or fined and jailed under the same circumstances. I simply disagreed on that.

            I agree that citizens should be able to carry anywhere they go, period and that HR218 set up retired LEO’s as a class of “the only ones”, something I am opposed to. Clear enough?

          3. @JR, Cops do not always give other cops a break. Sometimes cops do not give other cops from their own department a break. But just for the sake of this examination of the incident, who would you have make the investigation, if not law enforcement?

            1. WB,

              Actually, I agree with the decision as it relates to the investigatory portion of the event.

              I live about 180 miles away from where that game warden had to shoot that sow.

              I graduated high school 80 miles away from it.

              I know the area, hiked it, and have family and friends who used to hunt there on a regular basis, some still do.

              What I am saying, having seen first-hand how Leo’s and law enforcement in general operate in small Wyoming towns, ie when my dad was a deputy sheriff and Jailer, and I interacted with hp’s and deputies then too, as a senior in high school, I know how things operate behind the scenes!

              Your response is true, but only in the widest General sense. There are mountains of evidence illustrating just how much cops can get away with, even in this day and age, compared to the average citizen.

              The bottom line, is that both your statement generally speaking is true, and my statement is both generally and specifically accurate as well!

              The problem, as I see it, is the federal role in precipitating problems at the local level.

              I have personally had game wardens, who did not know me, tell me when I was hunting in Grizz areas, that if I was charged by a Grizz, to practice the three S’s: shoot it, shovel it, and shut up about it!

              This is when the feds were charging people with violating federal law pertaining to shooting endangered species, even in provably life-threatening situations!

              The feds even admitted that those instances were life-threatening, but that those who shot the Bears, knew they were in Grizzly country so the onus was still upon them, regardless that their lives were in danger!

              This pissed off game wardens and it pissed off deputies who unlike hp’s, generally also cruise hardpack and Backcountry areas.

              My point, is that these days cops have a whole lot more rights than the average citizen does, relating to treatment ‘ under the law’.

              What I am not saying is that they get a free pass.

              Further, my comments relate considerably to local Leo’s, as opposed to the feds.

              Considering what we’ve seen in the last 20 years, when Federal cops go bad, and when they destroy average citizens’ lives, the rule of law no longer exists for federal enforcement agents committing crimes.

              I support local Leos, and shall continue to do so, despite the deficiencies that I know happens from time to time.

        2. Vanns,

          My use of the phrase “let’s all be honest..” was not meant to imply that you were lying! Should you have taken it that way, I sincerely apologize because that was not my intent!

          I meant the phrase to imply the same as “let’s put all our cards on the table”, but the former phrase is what came into my head and that is what I wrote.

          Hopefully you’ve read what I wrote to Wild Bill, so you’ll get a better understanding where my head is on this subject. I’ve seen cops end up with a whole lot better outcomes, then the average citizen would have done under the same circumstances.

          I am not saying that that is the case in this instance with the Grizz; point of fact in this day and age, the fact that game and fish has handed off the investigation to the Sheriff’s Office, illustrates just exactly how tiptoe local Leos have to be, when it comes to delving into federal legal issues.

          The feds overwhelmingly, are no longer bound by the rule of law, but local Leo’s are! I could provide you with examples that I’m pretty sure you’re already aware of, such as fast and furious, the IRS targeting of conservatives, the Avilla and Zapata Fiasco, Jay Dobyns, Etc.

          I’m a strict Founders constructionist original intent, I just want all of us to play by the same rules, so that everyone knows where we’re at, and to be on the same page, if the fecal matter strikes the oscillating rotor for whatever reason.

          However, considering how very targeted local Leo’s are these days, the mindset of cops is changing, because it has to change due to circumstances. This will lead to a psychological sense of privilege Beyond and above what normally is the case with those who carry badges, because of the severe duress that local Leos are under being targeted for death by BLM, Nation of Islam, Antifa,, take your pick.

          I hope this better clarifies where my head’s at on these issues, but if it hasn’t, or it’s raised new ones, holler at me.

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