POWELL — A Wyoming Game and Fish employee has pleaded guilty to mistakenly shooting a grizzly bear last fall with a shot fired too close to a road.
Luke Ellsbury entered pleas to the misdemeanor charges Monday in Circuit Court in Park County. Sentencing is set for Oct. 9.
Ellsbury, a large carnivore biologist and former bear management specialist, told investigators he had spotted a large black bear while working about 10 miles east of Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 6, 2013, court records said. After work he bought a bear license, picked up a friend and returned to the area.
Ellsbury told investigators he spent about 10 minutes watching the bear and believed it was a black bear based on its color, the shape of its ears, the apparent shape of its face and the fact that he did not have a hump, court records said.
When Ellsbury walked up to the bear he realized it was a grizzly. He drove to where he could get cellphone service and reported his mistake to his supervisor.
The investigation found Ellsbury took the shot about 23 feet away from the edge of the highway, which qualified as shooting along a highway.
Recent Park County cases involving hunters who reported mistakenly killing a grizzly have resulted in financial penalties of between $7,500 and $14,000.