Police: Oregon man accidentally shoots brother instead of bear and kills himself

through: Nexstar Multimedia Cable, Jeremy Tanner

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (NEXSTAR) — Authorities say a southern Oregon man trying to protect his home from a bear instead killed his brother by mistake and then took his own life.

Josephine County Deputy Sheriff Travis Snyder said the man called 911 around 7 a.m. Tuesday and told dispatchers he ‘accidentally shot his brother while he was loading a gun. on fire” after being surprised by the bear.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the deputies traveled to the home in Sunny Valley, an unincorporated community in the southwestern corner of the state.

There they found a man dead from a gunshot wound. Snyder says they checked the residence and found a second man who had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Based on the investigation, the caller is believed to have committed suicide after calling 911 to report the accidental shooting,” Snyder wrote in a statement. “This case is still under investigation and will be forwarded to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Their names have not been disclosed.

“What an incredible tragedy,” one woman wrote on the Josephine County Sheriff’s Facebook page. “So many prayers for their family and friends.”

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says there are between 25,000 and 30,000 black bears in the state, where the last grizzly bear was killed in the late 1930s.

Officials say bears that begin to depend on food found in or around homes and businesses can become a security threat and will most often be euthanized. Check out the following tips to protect your property from bears:

  • Keep pet food inside. Feed pets in the house, garage or closed kennel.
  • Hang bird feeders from a wire at least 10 feet off the ground and 6 to 10 feet from the tree trunk.
  • Remove fallen fruit from trees.
  • Add lime to compost piles to reduce odors ― do not compost meat, bones, fruit, dairy products or grease.
  • Secure trash cans in a garage, shed, or behind a wire fence or electric fence.
  • Take out the trash just before pick-up time, not the day before.
  • Purchase bear-proof trash cans if needed.
  • Take your rubbish with you when you leave your holiday home.
  • Clean trash cans regularly with bleach or mothballs to reduce odors.
  • Use electric fences to keep bears away from orchards, gardens, compost, beehives and berries.
  • Store livestock feed in a safe place.
  • Do not leave scented candles, soaps or suntan lotions outside or near open windows.
  • Keep barbecues clean. Store them in a shed or garage.
  • Talk to neighbors to encourage everyone in the neighborhood to remove the attractants.
  • Stay indoors and let a nosy bear roam.
  • Never, ever feed a bear.
  • Teach children about bear safety.

Contain food and garbage

  • Store food in airtight containers in the trunk of your car, in bear boxes or on platforms
  • Hang bagged food 10-12 feet high and 6-10 feet from tree trunk or side support.
  • Do not leave food or pet food outside or in tents. Clean all food preparation and eating utensils immediately after use and store them in bear-proof vehicles or other sealed containers.
  • Dispose of trash in bear-proof containers or wrap it.
  • Don’t bury trash – bears will dig it up.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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