An Oregon man who was trying to fend off a bear mistakenly shot and killed his brother before taking his own life, according to authorities.
A man in rural Sunny Valley called 911 early Tuesday to report he had "accidentally shot his brother" while loading a gun after spotting a bear on their property, according to the Josephine County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies Found Two Deceased Men on Property
Responding deputies then found a man dead from an apparent gunshot wound, Undersheriff Travis Snyder said. "While checking the rest of the residence, a second deceased male was located with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound," Snyder said in a statement.
Deputies believe the 911 caller took his own life after reporting the accidental shooting. "Based upon the investigation, it is believed the caller took his own life after calling 911 to report the accidental shooting," the statement said. The incident remains under investigation and has been passed to the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, sheriff officials said Wednesday. The brothers have not yet been identified.
Oregon Known as 'Black Bear Country' But Attacks Are 'Uncommon'
While Oregon is known as "black bear country," attacks are still relatively "uncommon," according to local wildlife officials. The state is home as many as 30,000 black bears.
"In most cases, a bear will avoid human contact," the New York Post quoted a brochure from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "It is never safe to approach a bear."
On Thanksgiving Day last year, a 19-year-old man was injured after a black bear attacked him and "nicked" his face on his front yard in Sumpter, Oregon. However, the man said the bear was just trying to defend itself and fled as soon as it realized it could get away.
In December, a 70-year-old man shot and killed a man in Boone County, Kentucky, after mistaking him for a bear. The victim was digging for roots in the area when he was shot. The shooter, Jimmy Castle, sensed something was wrong but concluded that he shot at a trash bag and left the area. The victim's body was found the following day after his family reported him missing. Castle was later charged with failure to render aid, and negligent shooting involving bodily injury or death.