Black Bear Shot with .22 Rifle Inside California Home

A cinnamon color phase of the common black bear entered the home of a long-time resident of Lake Tahoe, California., iStock-177529416

On Monday, May 27, a cinnamon color phase of the common black bear entered the home of a long-time resident of Lake Tahoe, California. The bear has been reported to be a yearling. Yearling bears, recently separated from their mothers, have a difficult time establishing a territory of their own. Sometimes, sows, cubs, and young bears will keep close to human habitations to avoid being killed and eaten by adult male bears. A majority of young bears who do not reach adulthood are killed by mature male bears. It appears this young bear disputed the ownership of the house with the homeowner’s dog. From

According to the department, after the homeowner shouted, made noises and waived his arms, “The bear didn’t budge.” They say it began huffing and advancing towards the man’s dog. That’s when the homeowner retreated to his bedroom and grabbed his 22 rifle. He returned to his living room, where, Tira says, the man shot the bear twice in the house.

The 75-85 pound yearling then ran out of the house, and climbed a tree, but reportedly soon fell out of the tree, and, Tira says, “appeared to be suffering given its two gunshot wounds and fall, so the homeowner felt compelled to euthanize the bear to end its suffering.” The homeowner fired a third shot and called 911.

Many people underestimate the power of the common .22 rimfire Long Rifle (LR) cartridge. The cartridge is ubiquitous. It is the most commonly purchased and shot cartridge in the United States.

About seven billion .22 Long Rifle cartridges are produced for the United States market every year. A visit to a local Walmart a week ago showed Federal Automatch .22 LR available at less than $23 for 325 rounds, or less than seven cents a cartridge. Seven cents may seem high in the eyes of those who remember when .22 LR was commonly available for less than a penny a cartridge. When we adjust for inflation, 7 cents today is equivalent to about 4.4 cents in 2005. It is about as low (in constant dollars) as .22 ammunition has been since 1910.  Inflation is an insidious destroyer of the value of money.

On ranches and farms, the .22 LR is commonly used to dispatch large animals for butchering or to euthanize those who are dying to reduce suffering. Many deer have been poached with the ubiquitous .22 LR. The cartridge is relatively quiet. If fired indoors, a person outside may not realize a shot has been fired, as the walls of an insulated house act as a giant silencer/suppressor.

All bears, as with all animals, die. Young bears have a very high mortality rate, most often at the teeth and claws of an adult bear. Bears have to learn to respect human habitation.

In the past, any bear that was seen skulking around human habitations was shot. Often, they were shot with bird shot to avoid killing them when the human did not wish to harvest a bear immediately. Bears quickly learned to avoid human habitations in order to survive. Today, bears are so overprotected they are shot inside houses because they have not learned to avoid humans as the deadly predators we are.  Bears that have learned to enter human houses should be shot and killed. There are plenty of young bears to take their place. The young bears only have to escape the claws and jaws of adult bears for three years to be able to fight for and defend a territory of their own.

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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten
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