Court Overturns Conviction of Montana Man Who Killed Grizzly

9th Circuit rules defendant should have been able to raise self-defense claim

By Tristan Scott

HELENA — A federal appeals court has reversed the conviction of a Montana man who shot and killed a grizzly bear near Ronan in 2014.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Brian Charette’s case back to U.S. District Court after ruling Tuesday that Charette should have been able to raise a self-defense claim.

Charette was convicted of unlawfully taking a threatened species. He told investigators that he shot a bear that had been chasing his horses and then began to chase his dogs toward his house.

The ruling says the trial judge set the wrong standard for a self-defense claim in Charette’s case. The judges say Charette can claim self-defense even if he unreasonably believed that his actions were necessary to protect himself or others from the perceived danger from a grizzly bear.