WY: Off Duty Warden Shoots, Kills, Charging Grizzly

Opinion

Grizzly Bear Photo by Jean-Pierre Lavoie.
WY: Off Duty Warden Shoots, Kills, Charging Grizzly

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.

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
    Leave a Reply

    Please Login to comment
    4 Comment threads
    7 Thread replies
    0 Followers
     
    Most reacted comment
    Hottest comment thread
    7 Comment authors
    Ernie ZippreplatFlintlockJR BaileyWild BillVanns40 Recent comment authors
      Subscribe  
    Notify of
    Ernie Zippreplat
    Guest
    Ernie Zippreplat

    What about the Sow’s cubs? There is a place in Sitka Alaska called Fortress of the Bears that takes in orphan bears. Hope they were not destroyed and ended in some place like that.
    http://www.fortressofthebear.org/

    Flintlock
    Guest
    Flintlock

    Shoot.
    Shovel.
    AND……………….PICK UP YUR BRASS.

    tomcat
    Guest
    tomcat

    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.

    Hugo
    Guest
    Hugo

    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 ).

    Vanns40
    Guest
    Vanns40

    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.

    JR Bailey
    Guest
    JR Bailey

    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… Read more »

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    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.

    Vanns40
    Guest
    Vanns40

    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?

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @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?

    JR Bailey
    Guest
    JR Bailey

    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… Read more »

    JR Bailey
    Guest
    JR Bailey

    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… Read more »