A Wapiti man turned himself in the day after he shot a grizzly bear on North Fork Highway near Cody, Wyoming, because he thought it was a black bear.
The Park County Attorney’s Office charged Patrick M. Gogerty on Thursday with misdemeanor killing of a grizzly bear without license or authority. The charge is punishable by up a year in jail and $10,000 in fines, plus up to $25,000 in restitution to the state and six years’ suspension of hunting privileges.
Bear Was Found Dead
Wyoming game warden Travis Crane responded the morning of May 1 to the scene of the dead bear on North Fork Highway, according to an evidentiary affidavit Crane filed in Gogerty’s case.
Numerous vehicles had parked at the scene, Crane noticed when he arrived.
He found the bear dead and used a metal detector to locate a bonded, lead-copper bullet in its body.
Wyoming Game and Fish personnel in a necropsy later that day confirmed the bear was a grizzly boar weighting about 530 pounds.
Someone had shot the bear at least four times, the affidavit says.
The next morning at about 5:42, Gogerty left a phone message for Crane, in which Gogerty said he was turning himself in for shooting a grizzly bear, says the affidavit.
“Gogerty should have turned himself in immediately,” Crane wrote.
Crane met with Gogerty at about 8 that morning.
Gogerty said he had been out black bear hunting on the North Fork Highway when he saw a bear about 100 yards off the highway. He was confident it was a black bear because he could not see a hump on its back, the affidavit relates.
Gogerty shot at the bear about seven times, the document says.
But when Gogerty approached the dead animal, he saw its claws, its pads and its head, and realized it was a grizzly bear.
Gogerty is set for an arraignment in Cody Circuit Court on May 19, where he may plead to the charge against him.
He was not arrested or booked into the Park County Detention Center. Rather, authorities issued a summons for him to appear in court at his scheduled arraignment.
In the hours after the bear's death, the local community reacted with anger on social media.
“That bear can’t die in vain,” Amy Gerber of Cody told Cowboy State Daily on May 2. “The very few people who are so vehemently hateful toward grizzlies, that doesn’t represent us. That’s not Cody, Wyoming.
“It seems like there’s this perception that people here hate wildlife, and particularly predators, and that’s not true. The outcry over this bear being killed is strong.”
Julie Argyle, who runs the Wild Love Images wildlife photography site, posted photos of the bear carcass on Facebook, stating that the images were of the bear that had been shot May 1 between Cody and Yellowstone.
Argyle stated that “there had been no reports” of anybody having to shoot a grizzly bear in self-defense in the area.
“If that is the case, then whoever did this did it just for fun,” Argyle wrote in her post. “Once again, a beautiful animal that was doing nothing wrong was killed at the hands of humankind for no apparent reason.”
People may legally kill grizzlies in Wyoming only in clear-cut cases of self-defense, USFWS Special Agent Richard Gamba told Cowboy State Daily the day after the dead bear was found. Anybody who kills a grizzly in self-defense must report it immediately and be prepared to prove their case to investigators.
“It’s usually pretty easy to determine when a case was self-defense,” he said.
Clair McFarland can be reached at: Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com