Golden Gate Estates man found guilty after admitting to killing bear cub

Reporter: Jennifer Morejon Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Kyle Aaron Stevens, Golden Gate Estates
Kyle Aaron Stevens (Credit: Collier County Sheriff’s Office)

Witnesses and experts took the stand in the trial of a man who shot and killed a bear cub in Golden Gate Estates in 2020.

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

The judge in the case found him guilty of a misdemeanor and sentenced him to six months of probation. Stevens will also need to pay a $500 fine and take a hunter safety course.

On Wednesday he testified that he did not intend to kill the cub, that is why he said he used birdshot.

Under state law, there’s no law allowing you to use deadly force in self-defense against an animal.

It might not be a law because the state prosecutor said a case like this rarely comes across his desk.

“This is certainly the first that we have prosecuted since I have been here,” said State Prosecutor Lawrence Rabe.

The prosecutor said a point was made. The state will not tolerate crimes against animals.

“The federal government has a provision where you’re being mauled or killed by a bear, most states have provisions where you can protect yourself but Florida chose not to do that,” said Stevens’ defense attorney.

Two neighbors, FWC officers that responded, and a bear biologist all took the stand Wednesday.

Evidence presented to the judge included pictures, maps, surveillance video, and even the shotgun used.

Experts say there hasn’t been a black bear killed legally in Collier County by a citizen since 2015 when FWC banned hunting season for black bears.

Five years later, Stevens admitted to investigators that he shot one to protect his dog.

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