Monday, August 3, 2009

Of bears and ammo selection

From the Rocky Mountain State, comes this story:
BOULDER, Colo. — It took three rounds from a shotgun, five bullets from a handgun and two shots from a rifle to kill the 120-pound black bear that broke into a Boulder County home early Monday morning.

The bear break-in was the fifth time in a week hungry bears have gotten into Boulder County residences, all while the residents were home. That has wildlife officials urging area residents to take precautions and bear proof their homes.

Brenda Fischer's barking dog woke her at about 2 a.m. Monday morning. When she went upstairs to investigate, she found a bear in the kitchen of her home on Poorman Road, between Sunshine and Fourmile canyons.

Fischer quickly returned downstairs to wake her two children and her husband.

"As soon as I knew there was a bear inside the house, I went to gather up both our weapon and our ammunition, because they are in two different places, and went to place myself with the weapon between the family and the bear," said Paul Fischer, Brenda's husband.

"As soon as I moved to try and make a place for him to get out, he charged me," Fischer continued. "That's when I shot him and he kept charging me. I shot him a second time, and he kept charging me. I shot him a third time and he was finally disoriented enough for me to get away."

The first two rounds from the 12-gauge shotgun were birdshot and the third was rubber bullets, according to a report by the sheriff's office. The Fischers escaped through a bedroom window, leaving the wounded bear inside the house. [emphasis added]

When officers arrived on the scene at about 2:30 a.m., they found a bloody bear trying to claw his way through a screen door.

Sheriff's Sgt. Lance Enholm, after determining that the bear was severely injured and would need to be put down, fired his .45-caliber handgun five more times at the animal.

"(The first shot) struck the bear in the head, and it immediately reacted and began flopping around and growling," Enholm wrote in his report. "... I fired another round from my handgun, again striking the bear in the head. This didn't appear to have any impact on the bear, and it kept coming towards me."

It was shot number nine, however, this time from the sergeant's .223-caliber rifle, that finally felled the bear; a final round ended the bear's suffering, according to the police report. ...

Article here. Note that a 120 pound bear isn't all that large. Birdshot and a rubber baton round are poor choices for stopping a bear attack. Slugs would have been a much better and effective choice. I suspect that on a small bear like that, even 00 buckshot would have had the necessary penetration to reach vital organs. Indeed, the sergeant's choice of .223 was probably sub-optimal as well (depending to some extent on the particular ammo), although some agencies have removed shotguns from their patrol vehicles as they have transitioned to patrol rifles typically chambered in .223 Rem or 5.56 mm NATO.

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