Stephens City men plead guilty to killing bear

Two Stephens City men pleaded guilty Tuesday to the unlawful killing of a bear, among other charges, in Warren County General District Court.

Shawn Robert Gellner, 40, accepted guilty charges of the reckless handling of a firearm, wanton waste and the unlawful killing of a bear during the closed season. Cory Ray Gellner pleaded guilty to wanton waste and the unlawful killing of a bear.

According to the criminal complaint filed by Alberto Medina, of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Shawn Gellner admitted to discharging two .27 caliber rifle rounds from a sunroom at ground level into a bear on July 14. The shots were fired in the general direction of other occupied buildings 100 to 200 yards away.

Following the shooting, Gellner concealed the weapon in a child’s bedroom where a child could have accessed the rifle. He then left the area without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the bear, according to the complaint.

Gellner’s brother and sister-in-law both offered statements corroborating Gellner’s. Likewise, authorities located a bear carcass in the area and a firearm under the child’s bed.

The court ordered Gellner to pay $3,000 in restitution, along with court costs.

While Gellner is listed in the complaint as living at 947 Salem Church Road in Stephens City, Sgt. Carl Martin, a conservation police officer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said the shooting occurred in Warren County. Thus, it was likely not at Gellner’s residence.

Martin could not confirm the exact location of the shooting.

Unless a specific town or county allows for it, it is illegal to shoot a bear even if it feels threatening while meandering about one’s property, according to Ronnie Warren, assistant regional manager with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

“No, it would not be legal,” Warren said. “The bear is out of season. You can’t just shoot it because it’s in your yard.”

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ website, bear hunting season takes place between Nov. 28 and Jan 7. in Warren County.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com

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