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Girl, 8, Credited With Year's 1st Bear Kill

Sierra Stiles,8, put two bullets into a black bear's chest cavity Monday in Western Maryland, according to her and her father and granduncle, who were hunting with her.
Sierra Stiles,8, put two bullets into a black bear's chest cavity Monday in Western Maryland, according to her and her father and granduncle, who were hunting with her. (John W. Edwards - Photo By John W. Edwards)

It hit. The bear ran about 150 feet before collapsing.

"I was really, really, really happy," Sierra exclaimed. "They won't eat now. They won't eat a thing."

She described her feat to a group of natural resources officials and reporters at the Mount Nebo center. Harry Spiker, who manages the hunt for the natural resources department, said he had no doubt that Sierra shot the bear. He said he'd heard lots of tall tales from hunters and had learned to distinguish the credible from the inflated.

If Sierra seems like a natural, it's probably because she is. Her father remembers carrying her out to hunt raccoon with him when she was 1 month old. But even he's never killed a bear, and the only bears Sierra had seen before Monday were in zoos.

After a trip to a taxidermist, she'll be able to see one all the time: She plans to take the stuffed bear home.

The Humane Society of the United States, which has urged Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) to ban bear hunts, expressed concern Monday over the age of the hunter and noted that the first bear killed last year was a young bear.

"Governor Ehrlich is personally responsible for exposing young children and young bears to this cruelty," read the news release.

But hunters who came later, hauling bears of their own, were astonished by Sierra's feat of marksmanship -- usually bears will start to run too fast for a hunter to get off a second shot. And the bears weren't lulled into complacency by the 51-year moratorium, said Paul Peditto, director of DNR's wildlife and heritage service.

"Bears perceive humans as a threat, period," he said. "They don't know the difference between a human who's just out in the woods and someone who is hunting," viewing all as a possible danger to their feeding area.

So how did Sierra make the shot? "I'm fast at everything," she explained.

"I can't imagine the pride," said Tim Kvech, 31, the second hunter to bring in a bear. "My daughter's 9, and I can't do that."

The third hunter to come in -- and the third to arrive in a red pickup -- was Tera Roach, 23, a Reisterstown, Md., native. She had trapped two bears in Maine, but the bear she shot Monday, a 147-pound female, was her first bear kill in Maryland.

Hearing of Sierra's feat, Roach said, "That's good to see any kids out there, especially girls."

"The ladies are taking over," Peditto observed. "And it's a good thing."


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