TRE man accused of killing bear

A 21-year-old Topaz Ranch Estates man has been accused of killing a 480-pound black bear which officials found decomposing late Saturday at the corner of Granite and Breccia roads.

Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy David Stanley and Nevada wildlife biologist Carl Lackey were called to the site at 11:15 p.m. Saturday.

Originally, they believed the animal was roadkill until Lackey turned the bear on its back and discovered a single bullet wound in the center of the chest below the neck and shoulder.

They followed drag marks which ended at a residence on Andesite, more than a mile from the intersection.

According to reports, Matthew Z. Leon admitted he shot the bear, but told officials the animal had been eating garbage at his house for a month and had killed his 60-pound dog.

Leon said he didn't report the nuisance bear to the Nevada Department of Wildlife because he didn't think officials would respond.

He said the bear was rooting through the trash and turned towards him, leading Leon to believe the bear would break into the residence.

He said he felt threatened and shot the bear from inside the house with a .444 Marlin rifle.

Leon said he planned on reporting the incident Sunday.

Leon said he chained the dead bear to his sedan Saturday evening to dispose of the animal on old Highway 208, but only got as far as Granite and Breccia before the chain broke and pulled the bumper from his vehicle.

Leon reportedly claimed he killed the bear on Saturday, but officials said the animal had been dead three or four days.

Officers found uncontained garbage in Leon's yard, a pool of blood near the garbage and an unlocked storage freezer.

The carcass was removed from the site by a Topaz Ranch Estates General Improvement District back hoe and locked in the equipment yard pending the investigation.

Department of Wildlife spokesman Edwin Lyngar said the incident was avoidable.

"The fact is, this didn't need to happen," he said. "In my view, this was a majestic animal. Bears are considered big game animals, and as such, are protected. Our department relocates problem bears. Problems like this need to be reported immediately."

Leon was charged with unlawful killing of a bear.

The incident is under investigation by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Douglas County District Attorney's Office.

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