Federal officials recently ruled that a Wyoming elk hunter acted in justified self-defense last year when he shot and killed a grizzly bear, estimated to weigh 400 pounds, with a single shot at a distance of 23 yards.
Interestingly, the case will likely be the last such incident to be overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as Wyoming grizzlies were de-listed from federal protection earlier this year and now fall under jurisdiction of the state.
Ken Meade, a 65-year-old resident of Lander, Wyo. was camping near Togwotee Pass last October when his chocolate Lab alerted him to an intruder near his camper. Meade told FWS investigators that he yelled at the bear, hoping to frighten it away.
“I could see its nose down to the ground,” he told the Jackson Star-Tribune this week. “It got on my trail and started coming at us at a run.”
Meade said the bear disappeared from view behind a small hill for a few seconds.
“When he reappeared he was coming at me in a dead run,” he said.
Authorities determined that one shot from Meade’s .338 cal. rifle hit the bruin just below its jaw, in the center of the chest, killing it instantly.
This week Meade, who had not spoken to the media while the investigation was underway, called it, “The luckiest shot of my life.”
John R. Barksdale, assistant U.S. attorney, said all the facts in the case pointed to justifiable self-defense on the part of Meade.
The hunter agreed with the feds’ determination.
“When it got to within 23 yards, I was sure he was coming to get you,” Meade said. “He wasn’t coming for my autograph.”