No charges for man who killed bruin |

No charges for man who killed bruin

Janet Urquhart

The Basalt man charged with illegally shooting a bear that he said was threatening his family will not be prosecuted, according to Mike Goodbee, district attorney for the 5th Judicial District.

Goodbee’s office informed the Colorado Division of Wildlife on Friday that it would not pursue the case against Rob Janssen, who shot an adult black bear on Aug. 10. The bear had persistently tried to enter his family’s small cabin on Basalt Mountain, according to Janssen’s wife, Ginger.

“In essence, I cannot disprove the defense in this case, which was that he was reasonably afraid and was trying to protect his family and his property,” said Goodbee. “It is tragic, but it’s not an ethically prosecutable crime.”

The DOW cited Janssen for unlawfully taking a bear after an eight-day investigation. Wildlife officers concluded “Janssen was not justified in shooting the bear,” the agency said in a press release.

While an individual may kill a bear that is threatening human life, wildlife officers determined the bear and two cubs that had apparently ransacked the Janssens’ cabin repeatedly did not pose an imminent threat, according to the DOW.

Goodbee said he does not question the DOW’s decision to cite Janssen with the misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

But while wildlife officers could conclude the Janssens were in no danger from bears foraging for food, Goodbee said he understands how Janssen might feel differently.

“The average citizen, confronted with a situation like that, would consider it very dangerous,” Goodbee said. “The defense of property and the defense of self is not one we can overcome.”

Ginger Janssen told The Aspen Times in August that she and her husband were extremely fearful for their 21-month-old daughter’s life. The mother bear and her cubs had ransacked their cabin for three straight days, though the couple had complied with all of the DOW’s suggestions to deter the animals.

The Janssens live in a secluded cabin on the south side of Basalt Mountain, about two miles outside of the Basalt town limits. They are in the process of building a home.

Rob Janssen bought a shotgun on the day he shot the mother bear. Their final encounter came while he was re-nailing plywood over the cabin windows and doors after the bears had torn it off, according to Ginger.

At least one of the orphaned cubs was later trapped and taken to a rehabilitation facility near Silt by the DOW.

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Posted:Monday, October 30, 2000

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