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Bear Shooter Defense

A bear attack prompted a Fort Walton Beach man to shoot multiple black bears in Fort Walton Beach several months ago.

He was charged with the killing of those bears.

Now he wants the state of Florida to issue more protection to people who encounter those bears.

Channel three's Rob Brown spoke with him to find why.

Rob Brown "In November of 2013, 83 year old Ralph Ward was charged with shooting two black bears here on his property in Ft. Walton Beach. Now he's asking that those charges be dismissed, saying in Florida, there's no legal way to defend yourself from a bear attack."

Ward was in his yard when he heard his dog yelp in pain. He found the dog being attacked by a black bear. Ward scared the bear off and brought the dog inside. Then, he grabbed his shotgun and went out to warn his neighbors. That, he says, is when the bears charged him. He shot two of the animals. They died later. Ward was charged with the illegal taking of the bears.

Glenn Swiatek "When it comes to wild life, as in this case, Mr. Ward shooting at the bears, there is no self-defense statute on point."

His attorney, Glenn Swiatek, says an attack by wild animals, including bears, should be considered a threat against a person's life.

Glenn Swiatek "With 'Stand Your Ground,' you don't have to retreat if you feel legitimately threatened with violence."

Ward says he felt his life was, without question, being threatened.

Ralph Ward "What I want them to recognize is that I was at home, in my yard. The bears had come there and attacked me. I was defending my life."

Without updated laws, he says, the state is preventing those in danger from defending themselves.

Ralph Ward "They go on your property and tear up your garbage can, litter your place up, jump on you and all, and the Wildlife Commission don't want you doing anything but stand there and take it."

Reporting from Ft. Walton Beach, Rob Brown, Channel Three News.