Asian Black Bear Killed by Hunter in Virginia
December 11, 2003
Natural Bridge, Virginia
Two Asiatic bears escaped from an enclosure at the Natural Bridge Zoo when a worker failed to latch a gate properly. One of the bears broke into a residential home through a window, “stood up and growled” when he encountered the homeowner.
The bear “came flying through the back window. He came around the corner, stood up and growled at me. I escaped outside, where another bear happened to be hunkered underneath the porch.”
– Virginia Homeowner
The second bear swiped at the homeowner, but he was unhurt.
The zoo owner and a sheriff’s deputy chased the first bear through the home, shooting it several times before the bear finally collapsed in the kitchen. The second bear was wounded in the melee but escaped into a nearby wooded area. A hunter shot and killed it two days later, according to Rockbridge County Sheriff Robert Day.
I’d been in the woods hunting for two weeks with no TV or news. So I didn’t know that an Asian bear had escaped from a zoo. Ran into this animal while hunting and he was pissed off. He’d been shot in the throat with 357 magnum at 20 yards when he broke into a man’s house. Later, I found the bullet in the fat. I brought him down with 45-70 reloads. I thought they were going to throw me under the jail.”
– Doug Carnera, Virginia Hunter
Although officials in Rockbridge County said they have heard complaints about conditions at the zoo for years, the incident produced little local reaction. The bears’ deaths have been most keenly felt by animal rights activists, who began advocating last spring for the zoo to be shuttered.
Several Virginia residents said they were not worried about the escaped bears roaming in their back yards. In fact, most residents feel fortunate to have a zoo nearby. “I never did get scared. I didn’t have time,” the landowner said. “Besides, I hunt bears a lot.”