DEEP ensures we sympathize with the bear, not the old man who shot it

I admire the press release the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) issued today about the arrest of a man who allegedly killed a black bear on his property. Intentionally or not, it’s just so darn manipulative.

The release begins with the following facts: John G. Rocha, 82, of Windsor, was charged with illegally killing a black bear and fourth degree negligent hunting. Rocha allegedly shot the animal at his residence.

So, based on those first few paragraphs, it’s not unreasonable to think some might immediately conclude, “What’s the problem? Sounds like a concerned senior citizen protecting his property from a large wild animal. Why’s the DEEP being so heavy-handed? Isn’t this the same state government that just paid millions of dollars to some Maine outfit that gives mice diabetes, and now we’re crucifying a guy over one vicious bear?”

That must have been the DEEP’s worry because the press release offers these additional details: “Officers arrived at the scene, found a dead black bear and observed another bear, that appeared to be approximately one-year old, roaming in the area. The dead bear was 5-6 years old and weighed approximately 250 lbs. and was allegedly shot while it was in a tree on Rocha’s property.  The bear had apparently caused damage to Mr. Rocha’s bird feeder.  The bear was shot with a .30 caliber rifle.”

And right there the DEEP turns the story into Bambi and Rocha transforms from a hardy Nutmegger defending the homestead to a crotchety, trigger happy “stay off my lawn” type willing to orphan a cute little cub ’cause momma was looking for food.

I’m told the DEEP wanted to add that Rocha cackled, “See you in Hell!!!” as he shot the adult bear in the back while it was offering a handful of bird seed to its youngster, but someone thought that was gratuitous…

UPDATE: It gets better. Rocha’s claiming he was framed and someone else shot the bear.

Brian Lockhart