A black bear mother and her cub (file photo)
FORT WALTON BEACH, Florida (AP) - Wildlife officials charged an 82-year-old Panhandle man with shooting and killing a mother black bear and her cub.
Richard A. Ward told investigators he was trying to protect his dog and his family when he used his 12-guage shotgun to kill the bears.
The Northwest Florida Daily News reported Monday that wildlife officials investigated and determined that the man and his dog were never in any danger from the bears.
Ward faces charges of shooting and killing the two bears, attempting to shoot a third and discharging a firearm near a dwelling. He could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each of the charges.
"Ward had multiple opportunities to avoid the danger he perceived as being present," the report compiled by wildlife investigators stated.
Ward called 911 dispatchers when he said he saw the bear near his dog.
But wildlife officials said Ward and his dog were never threatened by the 160-pound mother bear and her two, 30-pound cubs.
Ward shot and killed the mother and one cub and a second cub got away. The second cub was later caught and relocated to a wilderness area, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission spokesman Stan Kirkland.
According the investigative report, officers found 12-guage bullet holes in home about 115 feet away from Ward's home.
"Ward negligently discharged a firearm outdoors on the site of a dwelling with a knowledge by his own admission that there many were children playing in the area," the report stated.