Killing a bear may not seem like an easy feat, but it was for Ryan Millar.
Recently released court documents confirm that the Tofino man was convicted of single-handedly killing two bears.
It’s a sad story.
One spring day, from the comfort of his porch, Millar spotted a mother and baby bear, peacefully climbing about 5 meters up a nearby tree.
Unlike his neighbours, who ran and grabbed their cameras, Millar was seen loading up his longbow and later crossbow to take shots at the mother and cub from the comfort of his porch.
This wasn’t one of those epic standoffs in the wild between man and beast like those romanticized in fiction. Millar decided to take his shot while the bears were far enough away that Millar could simply retreat back into his Tofino home at the slightest hint of danger.
Of course, there wasn’t any danger, according to Thomas Funk, a witness who viewed the killing.
Funk and his wife, visiting from Vancouver, were in a hot tub at their Airbnb next door when he saw the two black bears and went into the house to watch them safely.
Funk and his wife were surprised when they watched Millar go back into his house, and emerge with a longbow, crossbow and arrows.
They saw Millar as he took aim and let fly. Millar’s arrow hit its mark in the soft underbelly of the cub bear, which fell out of the tree as it’s mother and onlookers watched.
Funk recounted that he was about to go out and yell, “What the hell are you doing?” at Millar, but before he could, Millar “took a crossbow to finish off the bear.”
Funk remembered the horrific sound of the bear cub shrieking in pain before it died.
He said the mama bear, still in the tree, looked on as Millar shot her cub on the ground.
Millar then turned, “loaded the longbow again, and took another shot, and the second bear fell out of the tree,” he said.
Only injured, the mama bear tried to run, but Millar gave chase. He had to fire three more arrows before the mama bear finally died. Apparently, Millar isn’t a great shot.
The witness recorded a video of Millar then grabbing the body of the little bear by the scruff and hiding it under a tarp, a court judge wrote in his decision.
In addition to killing defenceless bears, Millar kept changing his story about what happened. He first told the police officer that Funk had called to the scene that he didn’t know anything about a bear being shot.
Then Millar switched his story, telling the officer he was worried about his dogs getting hurt, so he tried to scare the bear off, but then it charged, so he shot it with his bow.
He also said he’d only seen one bear.
Millar’s story changed yet again in court when he pleaded “self-defence” in killing both bears.
Fortunately, Justice Alexander Wolf didn’t buy any of Millar’s various versions of events.
“To be clear, without any hesitation, and to be as polite as possible, I conclude that his version of events is fabricated. … Mr. Millar simply wanted to kill the two bears, and that is what he did,” Wolf wrote.
Millar’s sentencing will take place in September, and if justice is done, he’ll get some quiet time in a small place to reconsider his actions.