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Woman Won’t Be Prosecuted for Killing Grizzlies, U.S. Agent Says

September 12, 1986

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) _ A woman who killed two grizzly bears on her ranch will not be prosecuted because the federally protected animals posed a threat to her, a U.S. wildlife agent said Friday.

Theresa Reiser shot the female grizzly and one of her two cubs about 75 feet from her ranch home east of Gallatin Gateway, in southwest Montana, on Sept. 5 when she caught them killing sheep in a pen.

″There were definitely some serious potential threats to human life,″ said Rod Hanlon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who investigated the shooting.

State officials decided earlier this week that the shooting was justified, because state law allowed people to shoot grizzly bears, a threatened species, when their property is in danger.

Federal law allows people to shoot grizzlies, which are on the threatened species list, only in self-defense, and Hanlon said that was the case.

″Even though Reiser had killed a grizzly bear that killed sheep, we feel there was sufficient threat and danger to herself and family members,″ Hanlon said.

The bears were in a small holding pen that contained about 17 lambs and three ewes, said Hanlon.

Reiser, 49, the only teacher for 12 children at the one-room Cottonwood School, said she did not know the bears were grizzlies.

″I feel fortunate to have survived,″ she said Friday. ″I’ve lived here my whole life and we’ve never had grizzly trouble.″

″If I’d known they were grizzlies, I never would have taken out a .22-250,″ a small-caliber ″varmint″ rifle, she said. ″I don’t have a death wish.″

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