Year after bear cub shot, killed in Collier County, neighbors still hope for justice

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Debra Wagner of Golden Gate Estates shot a video of this mama bear and her two cubs playing in her backyard on June 2, 2020. It was the last time the family would be seen together as one of the cubs was shot and killed shortly after. (Credit: Debra Wagner)

It has been one year since a man shot and killed a black bear cub in Collier County, and community members are still hoping to see justice.

Debra Wagner of Golden Gate Estates said a mama bear and her two cubs would play in her backyard and they were part of the community. Neighbors even named the cubs Bailey and Barley.

It was a year ago Wednesday that Wagner shot a video of the bears playing in her backyard. The cubs were born and raised in the neighborhood, but June 2, 2020, was the last time she saw the family together.

“I heard two gunshots as they left the yard into the woods,” she recalled.

“I thought, OK, well, that’s alright, those were two big warning shots.”

Wagner was wrong, they were not warning shots.

“Two days later, there were several vultures and there was a bad smell in the air. So I called FWC and they came out to investigate. And sure enough, one of the cubs had been shot and killed by my neighbor.”

Kyle Aaron Stevens admitted in court documents that he shot the cub, claiming he did it to protect his dog.

Wagner doesn’t buy it.

“He did suffer a long, painful death; he bled out. And he was shot in front of his mother and his other sibling. So it was pretty tragic,” Wagner said.

“Whether he felt in fear for his life or not, he knows that he shot the bear, he should have called and reported it.”

Stevens, 28, is charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and faces up to 60 days in jail or a fine if convicted.

That isn’t good enough for Wagner. She’s part of a group called “Justice for Bailey,” and they want a more severe punishment.

“We want to know that, you know, justice will be served in his name. And to let people know that they really, you know, you can’t just go out and shoot these bears,” Wagner said.

The mama bear never returned after the death of her cub. The other cub wandered around for a couple of weeks but hasn’t been seen since.

WINK News reached out to Kyle Stevens, but he hung up the phone when we identified ourselves.

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