Basalt council intervenes for man who shot bear
The Basalt Town Council will ask the new director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife to drop the charge against a man who shot and killed a bear earlier this summer.
Council members agreed Tuesday night that they should try to intervene on behalf of Rob Janssen, who shot a bear Aug. 10 on his property on the south side of Basalt Mountain, outside of town limits.
Wildlife officers cited Janssen for unlawfully taking a bear prior to Sept. 2. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, he could face a sentence of six months in jail, a $5,000 fine or both.
“Do we want to take a position that says, `Jeez, you guys’?” asked Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens.
He claimed it is a waste of time and resources for the agency to pursue a charge against a man who felt his family’s safety was threatened by a black bear. Other bears have been shot around the state without the DOW’s pursuit of criminal charges, he said.
The other board members agreed that the town should take action on behalf of Janssen. They granted permission for Stevens to call Russell George, a Rifle attorney and former speaker of the Colorado House who was recently appointed as director of the DOW.
Janssen has hired an attorney, Arnold Mordkin, who indicated his client might fight the charge.
Meanwhile, community support for Janssen is starting to emerge. People who work with Janssen and his wife, Ginger, are throwing a fund-raising barbecue Saturday at the Riverdale Sod Farm on County Road 114.
There will be hamburgers and veggie burgers “but no bear burgers,” said Jared Kerst, manager of the sod farm.
Kerst said many of the landscapers that his farm supplies said they wanted to support the Janssens, who are also landscapers, by raising funds to help pay their legal fees and possibly the fine. Kerst said he also wanted to show support because he feels the charge was unwarranted.
“I hope the precedent is not set that a man can’t protect his family,” he said.
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