WASILLA -- Alaska wildlife officials have cited a Talkeetna-area man who shot a sow and three cubs this month at his home. Don Tanner, 59, faces misdemeanor charges of taking a brown bear sow accompanied by cubs, and taking a cub bear in connection with the July 6 shooting.
Tanner disputes the charges and, in an interview Monday, called them "frivolous."
Alaska Division of Wildlife Trooper Lt. Tory Oleck said Tanner did not take the proper time to look around before shooting the sow and, from what he told a wildlife officer, was not threatened by the final bear cub he killed.
Tanner shot the bears after being awakened in the early morning at his home in wilderness north of Talkeetna. He said he shot the first bear out the bathroom window thinking it was a lone boar he had seen the day before. If the bear had been a boar, it would have been a legal kill. He then shot two 250-pound cubs as they tried to break into his house, and a final cub outside.
Oleck said troopers do not take issue with the two cubs shot breaking into the home. But Tanner should have looked around more before shooting the sow to make sure it was alone and that it was the lone boar, he said. Also, Tanner told a wildlife trooper he shot the last cub as it stood next to its mother, Oleck said.
"The third cub is standing by the sow and he shoots it," Oleck said. "I don't feel like that is legitimate defense of life and property."
Tanner, however, said he did look around the outside of his home, although not out his back porch, before shooting the sow. He also said he was threatened by the final cub, that he thought it was coming toward him.
"The bottom line is I feared for my life from the bears," he said.
Tanner works as safety manager for the Matanuska Electric Association. In the early 1990s, he served as director of boards and commissions and deputy commissioner of community and regional affairs under then-Gov. Walter Hickel.
Tanner is the second Valley man charged this summer by fish and wildlife officials with illegally taking a bear.
Randall A. Brown, 47, was cited for illegally feeding game and taking a sow bear after he shot a sow in early July at his home on Knik River Road. Brown had an estimated 100 to 200 bags of garbage on his property that attracted the bears, Oleck said.