Man says 'The Revenant' made him worried for his family's safety.
Poachers use a lot of excuses to justify their crimes. But this is a new one. A Missouri man who illegally shot a black bear says he did it because he was frightened for his family's safety after watching the movie 'The Revenant.'
The movie is a true story and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life frontiersman guide Hugh Glass, who was brutally mauled by a grizzly and left for dead by his companions in Montana in 1823. It became something of a pop culture phenomenon last year.
Chris Keown, 40, shot the black bear near his home in May after it wandered to within 25 yards of his front door in Jefferson County. He told the St. Louis Post Dispatch he had never seen a bear in Missouri and had no idea they were protected at the time.
"That bear was big," Keown told the Post-Dispatch. "I thought it was a grizzly."
Of course, there are no grizzlies in Missouri. Keown admitted he didn't know much about bears and wasn't aware that black bears could be brown in color like the one he shot.
"I'm sorry that I did do it," he told the paper. "My adrenalin was pumping. About three weeks before that, we watched 'The Revenant' and it was just going through my mind."
Although the bear wasn't aggressive and ran when he tried to take a photo, the Revenant and other high-profile bear incidents often posted online were still on his mind during the sighting.
He ended up following and shooting the bruin in the ditch in the woods across the street from his house. He ended up taking the paws and meat, but left the skinned head and hide behind.
He claims he took the meat because as a hunter, he tries to use every part of an animal. "I'm not an evil, mean person. I love animals," Keown said. "I did it for one reason: For my son, because he plays in this road and rides his bike up and down this road."
A little later, Keown was confronted about the incident by conservation agents. At first he denied any wrongdoing, but Keown's adult son later convinced him to tell the truth. So he led agents to the skinned out head and hide. The meat and paws, which were given to a friend, were also turned over to authorities.
Image via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
He pled guilty to a misdemeanor in June and paid court costs of $103.50 and a $99.50 fine in the case.
While he says he was protecting his family, conservation officers disagree with his approach since the bear was not acting aggressive at the time. "He should have just let it go," Larry Yamnitz of the Missouri Conservation Department told the Post-Dispatch.
As bear numbers increase in Missouri, Yamnitz expects there will be more incidents because not everyone is educated about the protections on them. "Our bear population is growing and there's going to be more opportunities for people who don't look at the law as something that needs to be obeyed," Yamnitz told the paper.
Keown meanwhile, told the Post-Dispatch he'd do it again under the right circumstances. "If I see him right here, I'm going to kill him," Keown said. "What are you supposed to do? They say, beat on pots and pans and make noise. What is my son supposed to do? Run around here with pots and pans?"
Bear poaching incidents seem to be rarer than other types of wildlife crime. The Post-Dispatch reports this incident is only the second in the last 15 years in Missouri. The law there allows for a black bear to be killed if it is causing property damage or posing an immediate threat to people or domestic animals.
But Keown openly admits the bear was not aggressive and ran away when confronted. What do you think? Was this man justified in shooting this animal?