The shooting took place last summer and the injured black bear has never been found.
A Canadian man pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating a federal hunting ban in Jasper National Park. CBC news reports. The violation stems from an incident that occurred in August 2022 when he brought a shotgun into the park and used it to shoot a black bear.
Serge Painchaud, a 42-year-old resident of Edmonton, claimed in court that he was unaware of it against the law carrying a firearm in a national park. He said he brought the shotgun with him and decided to use it because he was “scared.”
Justice Rosanna Saccomani firmly rejected this defense and ordered Painchaud to pay a fine of $7,500 or approximately $5,640 USD within a year. (The prosecution pushed for higher fines and two years’ probation for possession of firearms, but the court was lenient because Painchaud was cooperative and had no criminal record.)
“(That) would apply to pretty much any person in your situation,” Saccomani told Painchaud. “We are all afraid of bears.”
According to court records, Painchaud and two friends went for a walk the Overlander route on the morning of August 6. He brought a Mossberg Model 510 20 gauge, which he loaded and carried openly on the trail.
At one point, after crossing paths with several other hikers, Painchaud decided to turn around and walk back alone as his friends continued on. At about 12:15 a.m., he encountered a black bear that was about 100 feet away on the other side of a creek.
Painchaud “got frightened” and fired a warning shot at the bear. The bear shuddered and took a few steps forward, after which Painchaud fired a second shot, hitting the bear. The black bear rolled off a bank and ran into the woods.
One of Painchaud’s friends heard the two shots and called park rangers, who came to look. They discovered two empty shotgun shells at the scene along with traces of blood, but the bear was never found.
“Injured bears can be very aggressive if encountered up close, so any further search should be approached with extreme caution,” Parks Canada said at the time, noting that an injured black bear is even scarier than a healthy one.