When is it acceptable to kill an animal in self defense? Do we have a certain degree of responsibility, or are we always justified in the matter?
Recently a person from Garrett County Maryland was found not guilty in a charge of hunting bear during closed season, after shooting a bear that had wandered onto his property. The man said that he had not intended to harm the animal and had fired a warning shot. However, the bear was hit in the spine and had to be euthanized. I believe in the right to self defense. If you are in danger, you are absolutely allowed to use force, even lethal force, to neutralize an immediate threat.
However, this man was on his porch, and if he is being honest that he had just fired a warning shot, then it was his poor skill with a gun that caused the loss of life for this animal. Even at night, you should be able to fire a warning shot without hitting your target. If you have to, fire into the air. The terminal velocity of a bullet is far lower than the muzzle velocity, so while it can be dangerous (don’t stand right underneath the damn thing), it is unlikely to be fatal to anyone nearby.
Now, the charges in question are of course bogus. There probably was no specific law relating to the unnecessary killing of an animal, so that is the best that the prosecution could do. While I’m never a fan of legal retaliation, I think that there needs to be some accountability in this person’s actions. If he truly harmed the animal accidentally, then he really needs to show the community that he is taking action to get better training with firearms.
As for future cases, if you see a bear, and you can easily stay away from it, do so. Don’t shoot the bear. Don’t shoot at the bear. If you can remain safely inside, and you have no pets or livestock that are at risk, then get the hell inside, and wait until the bear leaves. There’s no reason to even attempt to use lethal force. This is simply an extension of the non-aggression principle extended to non-human animals. And as animals do not have the same understanding as humans do, and they have no choice as to where we live, it is important that we respect animals, and limit the amount of harm that we do to them.