View Full Version : Justifiable predator self defense

Irish B
March 26, 2012, 01:36 AM
What would you consider justifiable self defense on firing on with intent to kill an animal? There are obvious ones like if a bear is charging you full on. But how about if a bear, lion, coyote, etc is in your yard after your dogs? Are you justified in killing that animal? It doesnt have to be a predator. Even an aggressive deer, elk, or moose can pose a major threat. A lot of people have been charged and fined with killing bear, moose, etc claiming it was self defense. Where do you draw the line and when do you pull the trigger? Has anyone actually shot and killed an animal in self defense? If so what were the repercussions? If anyones heard my story before they know i personally have fired on a bear that broke into my backyard and went head on with my husky only when all other attempts to chase him off failed. Unfortunately it was before i was familiar with proper shotgun loads and i used 00 magnum buckshot and didn't do the job i needed it to but it did get the bear to leave. Anyways I want to know if anyone's had to take an animal in self defense.

March 26, 2012, 08:36 AM
I have never shot an animal in SD of another human but did kill two neighbors pitbulls in my yard in defense of my small dog.

However, another neighbor was coming out of his house with his g-daughter in his arms and was met by a dog at the end of his porch digging in the trash. He tried to run the dog off. Dog snarled at him and he went in, grabbed a pistol and shot the dog. He then took the dog down, dumped it in the yard of where it lived, knocked on the door and told the guy what happened. The dog owner called the sheriff and when it was all done, my neighbor had to pay just under $2000.

Judge asked neighbor "was dog attacking a human or any animal owned by him". He answered "no".

Ironically , the two pits I shot were from the same house as where the dog my neighbor shot was from. Animal control went to that residence and found several unlicensed dogs running lose, dog houses , water/food bowls all over but couldn't cite the resident as he told animal control the dogs didn't belong to him.:rolleyes:...animal control rounded up all the dogs.:p

Art Eatman
March 26, 2012, 08:51 AM
Opinion: Common sense and "rational and prudent person" is how I judge. Next is circumstance. I myself might be in less danger than a small child or an elderly woman, so third-party defense can be quite rational.

IMO, defense of my property, such as my pet in my yard under attack by any trespassing animal, is quite justified.

The mere sight of an animal in my very-rural yard, however, does not alarm me. I have no pets. I have coyotes, foxes and bobcats traipsing through from time to time. Mostly, I take pictures. I'd not be surprised at a cougar coming through at night. No harm, no foul. A stray but apparently not-feral dog is annoying, but not harmful.

March 26, 2012, 09:35 AM
As far as defending your livestock, pets or property (crops, garden, etc) from animals, different states have different rules. I do not believe there is a blanket answer to your question. Check your states laws. A Google search will probably turn up something.

March 26, 2012, 10:16 AM
I can talk of only Wyoming (where I live now that I've retired) and Alaska (where I lived for 22 years and was in LE).

There is nothing that I know of that prevents you from protecting yourself or property from wild or domestic animals.

Everyone talks about Bears and such, but you can bet you booties the most dangerous {wild} animal in North America is a Cow moose with Calf, plus, moose get territarial in the winter when heavy snows force them into towns for food.

The most attacks you're going to run into is dogs.

March 26, 2012, 11:04 AM
Just remember, even with all your NO TRESPASSING signs, the animal cant read. If it is attacking you, then fire away. You might be able to dispose of them if they are a creating damage, but that would depend on the local "leash" laws. Discharging a firearm within the city limits is a different ball game alltogether and you should check your local ordinance.

March 26, 2012, 11:07 AM
At a base level, I feel if it's causing harm to my property (including an animal) on my property and I can't run it off, then yeah, I'd shoot it.

March 26, 2012, 11:21 AM
I know of people that have gotten into trouble for killing dangerous animals within city limits. Since the state of Texas considers the killing and or capture of any vertebrate, hunting, I have seen hunting w/o license charges included. There was some kids catching gechos in a Styrofoam cup and got charged and fined for hunting w/o license.

March 26, 2012, 01:08 PM
The fed will recompense livestock losses for some protected species. Not sure if that includes dogs though.

March 26, 2012, 03:14 PM
I SD killed a bear in AK.He had already bit my former spouse and was not leaving.
I was offered,and declined,a bear hunt on the same trip.I was traveling cheap and light and did not have the resources to deal with meat or hide.I had no interest in shooting one to watch him fall.
I did encourage this bear to leave,he declined,and was heading toward me.We already had one hurt,and we were 200 river miles from the nearest road,then 7 road hours to Fairbanks.
It may help if you are at the hospital with an injured person as the questions are being asked.
We knew AK required the head and hide of a SD bear shoot must be turned in to Division of Wildlife.We complied.IMO,this reasonable law takes away any incentive to shoot one for trophy.

I can recall some a neighborhood dog that was loose and came into my yard as I was unloading my truck from a camping trip.Some dalmation mix.His hair was up and he was coming low and growling.
My machete handle was right there in the back of the truck.I fenced foil,sabre,and eppe a few years long ago.
I think maybe that dog looked at me in a sabre en garde with my eyes glowing red and saw something .He dropped his attitude,turned and went home.

What I am up against is not dangerous animals,but destructive ones.Mostly diggers.Racoons,skunks and foxes,displaced from open land by development,burrowing under structure.

Sometimes,it may even be a woodpecker working on the siding.

Unfortunately,old school handling of these problems can result in handcuffs.

Almost any action taken can result in "cruelty" charges,.

March 27, 2012, 08:07 AM
I would def. check the laws in your state. Here in Va. if other animals are after your livestock its shoot then call, same with household pets. On the other hand if bears are in your cornfield and they destroy several acres thats not considered an issue......they will trap them, shoot with mace and rubber bullets and release them in the same spot. If you shoot them you may receive high dollar tickets, so you cannot protect your corn which feeds your livestock.....funny how things work out sometimes.

March 27, 2012, 08:14 AM
What we think is not important. What is important is your locale, attitudes of local LEO, prosecutor and judge.
I have killed dogs for reasons I felt were justified. I try to follow the old, wise, adage of: shoot, shovel, shut up.
BTW, I can't count the number of squirrels, raccoons, possums
and armadillos I have killed because they tear up my wife's bird feeders, garden and lawn. Even a few skunks.

March 27, 2012, 08:34 AM
I try to follow the old, wise, adage of: shoot, shovel, shut up.


March 27, 2012, 10:47 AM
In NM, you can kill a predator (wild) in defense of livestock and yourself or another human, but killing a predator in defense of a pet is considered a no-no. That's not the legal term, btw. Now that law applies to all predators, including wolves, but wolf kills must be reported within a different time frame than other predators, given their endangered status in NM. They don't have them up here, but down in the Gila, I hear they reintroduced some. Different states may have different laws, though.

March 27, 2012, 11:14 AM
I have killed 2 dogs in defense.

One when I was 16 years old, quail hunting, and a jerk let a Doberman loose to attack me when I was on the other side of the highway from his home, about 400 yards away. I waited until the dog was in the road and off his land (about 7-8 yards from me) and killed it with a load of #6 birdshot from the full choke barrel. He called the cops, and the sheriff said I had every right, and that I could press charges if I wanted to because he let the dog loose. He admitted he sicked the dog on me because I was “too close” and that “all hunting should be illegal”, even though the law was 100% on my side, and I was hunting on land that was open to hunt.
(He was a relocated California liberal, and was too stupid to know he could not sway those cops.)

The 2nd time was only 4 years ago when a very large dog was chasing my horses. I killed that one with a .308 from my up-stair window and I called the Sheriff myself. They came out, looks things over, collected the dog and took it to the owner, again with the message that I could charge her if I wanted to.

I know we have a lot of badge heavy cops in the USA and a lot of bad judges, and I THANK GOD when we have good ones like the ones I got to deal with.
Those that look at what is right and wrong instead of looking at the statutes to see if they "can make an arrest" are the good ones.
Good arrests are always those that traget what is WRONG, not just what they can make a case over.

March 30, 2012, 02:29 PM
the only thing i can speak to is having to shoot my neighbors dog, it simply would not stop trying to eat chickens. we only have a dozen so i didnt want to share lol so out came the .223,i drug it out into the woods and never said nothing about it as the lady is very strange liberal type. that was atleast 6 mo ago and there is still a reward poster @ the bank in town. not to sound heartless but what if it started going after my toddler ? not taking that chance.

March 30, 2012, 08:29 PM
I suggest each know the laws of their state on the control of loose dogs. In the state of Missouri, hunting dogs may not be harmed unless actually physically attacking. I've seen grown men ready to kill over the shooting of a hound that was causing no harm other than crossing the shooter's property.

I have no problem disposing of a feral or out of control dog and have had to dispose of several(both my own and others) dogs that crossed the line.
In my area, we have many "imported" landowners who think their land is sovereign soil immune from any sort of trespass despite the law protecting legitimate hunting dogs.

March 30, 2012, 09:15 PM
I suggest each know the laws of their state on the control of loose dogs.

That's very good advice.

Here in Ohio, it's against the law to hunt deer with dogs. The game warden will tell ya, if you see a dog/dogs running deer to shoot them. This area,as with many, is a dumping ground for unwanted pets. The strays will form packs and start running deer/livestock for survival. Most of the farmers around these parts are familiar with each other dogs so if someone sees my dog running deer, I would get one warning. After that, the dog would be shot if seen running them again. Running livestock doesn't get a second chance.

March 30, 2012, 11:19 PM
Its illegal to hunt deer with dogs in WI too. Dogs seen running deer CAN be shot on sight as well however we don't often see dogs running deer.

In regards to predators I'm all for their neutralization with extreme prejudice. In the protection of home, loved ones and property it is legal in WI to shoot predators (and scavengers such as coons) that are causing damage to your property. This includes feral cats, feral dogs, coyote and other critters (even including rabbits if they're raiding your garden).

If you're in the country side and shoot a predator/varmint that is damaging your property nobody's going to care. Simply shoot, shovel and move on. Nobody is going to call the police/sheriff.

If you're in a city you'd better be pretty careful about choosing to shoot a predator - most municipalities have ordnances against discharge of a firearm in city limits. If its truly a self defense situation you will most likely not be prosecuted however there's still a chance (depending on your DA and LEOs).

March 31, 2012, 08:49 AM
0ooops....your right Hansam

I should have added in my post about laws against discharging firearms within city limits as well.
Guess I've been in the country to long. :D

April 2, 2012, 03:17 AM
Most states provide for justified SD wildlife kills....... and not so wild.

I've done more than a few fdefense of life and property (DLP) bear kills. Mostly as a result of having to solve someone elses problem (public safety) but I was charged once while trying to locate a small brown bear and give it the deterrent treatment and ended up having to kill it instead.

I've had to investigate many more DLPs by citizens and over the years I've learned that I can't expect the average person to react in the same manner as I would. There have been some that I questioned as justifiable kills, but the people involved aren't me, nor do they have my level of training and certainly not the same level of confidence and gun handling skills.

The ADF&G has a standard DLP form that asks specific questions and provides for the person to make a written statement of the details surrounding the kill. This is turned in to the ADF&G along with hide and skull. ADF&G reviews it and if something is out of place it gets turned over to the Alaska Wildlife Troopers for enforcement action.

KRAIGWY is correct, there is far more danger from cow moose with calves and territoral winter moose than anything else. If a moose is whacked in SD, the meat is salvaged, turned over to the state and is given to a charity on an approved list like a food bank or homeless shelter.

The AKPEN, SE and probably Kodiak are the exceptions for bear activity. When I lived along the Yukon, we saw and dealt with bears every now and again. Out here on the AKPEN it's nearly every damn day from May- October.

I should have added in my post about laws against discharging firearms within city limits as well.

I'm willing to bet a justifiable SD shoot of anything human or animal is an affirmative defense or exception to the rule.

April 2, 2012, 08:50 AM
Years ago a doe attacked my dogs in my yard. I called the Wardens afterwards and found out I would of been in big trouble if I shot her. Here in Maine wild animals belong to the state (at least according to the state)- dogs belong to individuals and different rules apply.

Half the reason I get a hunting license is so that I can legally deal with skunks, coyotes, etc... if I have to. Open season all year on both.

Hiker 1
April 2, 2012, 09:38 AM
Irish B,

A woman I personally know shot an aggressive coyote in her backyard in a residential area of Colorado Springs and was charged with discharging a firearm in city limits and unlawful taking of wildlife (or something similar). Eventually, the DA dropped the gun charge but she still had to pay a fine and went through a lot of crap.

A lot depends on the local municipal laws as to what you may face following an animal shooting.

Irish B
April 2, 2012, 11:23 PM
That's good to know as I live in woodland park, 20 min west of Colorado springs. Although they're a little more laid back about firearms up here. That and literally everyone up here owns guns. I've nailed a few problem trash bears with rubber buckshot and the neighbors have never complained.

April 3, 2012, 07:29 AM
COLMAN, S.D. (AP) — A 150-pound mountain lion was no match for a squirrel-chasing terrier on a farm in eastern South Dakota.

Jack the Jack Russell weighs only 17 pounds, and yet he managed to trap the cougar up a tree on Tuesday.

Jack's owner, Chad Strenge, told The Argus Leader that the dog ``trees cats all the time,'' and that the plucky terrier probably ``figured it was just a cat.''

Professor Jonathan Jenks, who tracks cougar migration patterns, says hunters usually need two or three hounds to chase a lion up a tree. He says the cat probably wasn't hungry enough to attack Jack.

Strenge used a shotgun to knock the mountain lion from the tree and — assisted by Jack — chased and fatally shot it.

Arden Petersen, of the wildlife division of Game, Fish and Parks, told The Madison Daily Leader that no charges will be filed.


I suppose the owner of the terrier could claim he was protecting his dog if they wanted to file charges. I think one pheasant over your limit or some other infraction would land you in a heap more trouble, here.

April 3, 2012, 09:02 AM
In Wisconsin:
• It is illegal to hunt deer with dogs.
• Dogs are considered private property and are protected by law. Only Conservation Wardens may kill dogs chasing deer. Owners may be held responsible for damage caused by their dogs.
• A dog that is actively engaged in a legal hunting activity, including training, is not considered to be running-at-large if the dog is monitored or supervised by a person, and the dog is on land that is open to hunting or on land on which the person has obtained permission to hunt or to train a dog.

You shoot someone's pet you're asking for trouble. In areas where small game and deer season overlap or more developed areas where the general public may be out walking their dogs it's not only illegal it's a bad idea for our sport.

April 3, 2012, 09:32 AM
In a hunting situation yes only DNR wardens can shoot dogs running deer. In a defense of property and safety shooting dogs is not illegal. I've never actually seen dogs running deer here in WI in 20 yrs of hunting but I HAVE seen them running amok. If I see a dog running amok on my property - that is no owner in sight and no collar and tags then I'm shooting it. Not that I hate dogs - I love them actually and also train dogs for bird hunting as a side venture.

Being that I work with dogs almost every day I can also say that dogs that are allowed to run loose like that are also dogs with no obedience training. These dogs are destructive and can be dangerous. Many a time I've heard of a farmer having to shoot a dog because it was harassing their livestock. I also heard of a dog that had roamed 1.5 miles from its owner's home and 30 chicken from a farmer's property before they came home and found it doing so - then shot it. Dogs at large are also a danger to safety - I have very young children that love to play outside. A stray dog can do great harm to them and as such I'm ever vigilant.

I'm part of the group of pet owners that believe their pet should never be allowed to roam freely outside of their property. That said there are many farmers whose dogs stay on their property and do their jobs such as livestock guarding. There are also many people who believe that it is their dogs' or cats' right to just up and wander around the countryside because they like to do so. Many times they're the ones putting up signs looking for missing pets because Fido or Kitty wandered away one day and never came back.

Speaking of cats - I'm almost at a shoot on sight point with them. My second oldest (8 yrs old) was recently attacked by a cat that was sitting in a bush by our house. He was walking by it carrying garbage out of the house when the cat jumped at him clawing and biting. He wasn't badly hurt (required a few stitches because of a bite) but I was behind him with more garbage and I was able to chase the cat off him. The danged thing fled for about 30 yds then came running back at me in attack. I shot it dead with my EDC gun. The kicker is it had a collar and tags. Belonged to a guy in the next town over - and when I informed him of what happened he wanted to sue me for his cat because his cat was gentle and loving and it could never have done that. I told him he could go ahead and sue me but I'd press charges for the injuries done to my son - and as the owner he's responsible. That was the end of that but it proves that even someone's beloved pet can be a danger.

If we're willing to put a bullet in a human intruder to protect our loved ones and ourselves we should be willing to put a bullet in a non-human threat too.

Irish B
April 3, 2012, 01:18 PM
I am guilty of having my stupid dog run deer. He's a husky with a bit of wolf in him so if he gets loose he'll chase the deer for miles. Luckily he doesn't get loose very often. I don't condone hybrids but having personally worked with them is why I rescued him. I hate the people that do let their dogs run free at all times and are constantly chasing the wildlife.

April 3, 2012, 01:46 PM
There is little to no wiggle room when it comes to birds of prey... I know you cannot defend poultry from attack! They tell you that depredation is sign you need better animal housing.


April 3, 2012, 02:00 PM
You shoot someone's pet you're asking for trouble. In areas where small game and deer season overlap or more developed areas where the general public may be out walking their dogs it's not only illegal it's a bad idea for our sport.

Agreed. It also might get your head blown off. People take their pets serious and if you start blasting pets they can make a good argument they are afraid you're a nut and trying to shoot them.

April 4, 2012, 10:11 AM
Any member of my family,,,
Or any of my pets,,,
I'm shooting it.

But if I can alleviate the situation without shooting,,,
Because maybe it's just passing through,,,
That would be my preference.

A long time ago in a land far away,,,
I had to stand in front of a judge and explain my actions,,,
I told him the feral dog was threatening my wife's pet basset of 14 years.

I just went out there to scare the feral animal away,,,
I didn't shoot it until it turned itself and advanced on me personally.

Why did I have the shotgun in the first place?,,,
I was a Cub & Boy Scout your Honor,,,
Our motto was "Be prepared."

He chuckled and dismissed the charges of,,,
Discharging a firearm within city limits.



April 20, 2012, 09:18 PM
In 1965 I stepped out the back door to my folks place and saw my 2 yr old cousin playing in the grass. There was an old coon hound stalking the child and ready to attack him. I yelled at the dog and it took off. The dog ran around behind some cars in the driveway, I reached into the kitchen by the door and retrieved the loaded .22. I popped off one shot as the dog ran behind some cars, it made it to the end of the drive before it died. Rope around the tail, tied to a bumper and moved into a near by pasture.