A Canadian has pleaded guilty to shooting and injuring a black bear in Jasper National Park in Alberta.
Serge Painchaud, 42, was fined CA$7,500 (about $5,641) for the incident, which took place in August last year and was a violation of a hunting restriction in under the Canada National Parks Act, The Guardian reports.
Painchaud had gone hiking with two friends but got tired before his companions and turned back alone. While alone, he saw a bear about 100 feet away and across a stream, according to the case’s agreed statement of facts. obtained by the Société Radio-Canada.
The hiker said he “got scared” and fired a warning shot into the air with the 20-gauge shotgun he brought to the park. Guns are not allowed in Canada’s national parks, a rule Painchaud told the court he “honestly had no idea” existed.
After the warning shot, the bear took a few steps towards Painchaud, at which point he shot and injured the animal. The injured bear rolled down the edge of a stream and fled into the forest.
Judge Rosanna Saccomani said the fear Painchaud felt upon seeing the bear was irrelevant to the case.
“(It) would apply to almost anyone in your situation,” she said, according to CBC. “We are all afraid of bears.”
Parks Canada spokesman Kevin Gedling said at the time of the incident rangers found bear blood at the scene, but were unable to locate the injured bear. He told the Western Standard that the forest landscape made the search “very difficult” and noted that injured bears could be aggressive and dangerous.
The US National Park Service notes that bear attacks are rare and has a detailed guide outlining what hikers should do if they encounter bears. The advice is to stay calm, sound as tall as possible, and speak in a calm, firm voice. It is crucial never to run away from a bear, as they are fast runners and will instinctively chase a fleeing animal.