An off-duty Ridgefield, Connecticut, cop was placed on administrative leave this week after allegedly shooting to death a beloved black bear in Newton last week, reports said.
The mama bear, known to locals as Bobbi, left behind two cubs after being gunned down on private property on May 12.
“We are aware that one of our officers was involved in an off-duty incident in which a bear was shot and killed in Newtown,” Ridgefield Police Chief Jeff Kreitz told The Ridgefield Press Tuesday.
“The incident is under investigation by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and we are awaiting the results. Additionally, this is a personnel matter which is under investigation internally,” Kreitz added.
It was unclear if Bobbi, identified by her ear tags and a social media following, was shot on the unnamed officer’s property. Ridgefield is about 20 miles from Newtown in southwestern Connecticut.
“Once we complete our investigation, we will bring that forth,” Col. Chris Lewis, the commanding officer of DEEP’s Environmental Conservation police force, told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, the bear’s orphaned cubs were captured by wildlife officials on Monday and were taken to a rehabilitation center, officials said.
The cubs were “settling in” to their new home at the Kilham Bear Center in New Hampshire, DEEP officials wrote on Facebook Tuesday, posting a picture of one of the orphans perching in a tree.
“We were seeing a lot of posts encouraging people to try and feed the cubs and try and do other things that were well-intended but would have put them in a tough position,” Jenny Dickson, director of the Wildlife Division at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, told the paper.
When bears have access to human food, they become “habituated” and lose their fear of people, she reportedly explained.
“That becomes very very dangerous for them, it’s also dangerous for the public,” Dickson said.
It is illegal to kill bears in Connecticut except in cases of self-defense, and bear attacks in the state are rare.