No charges for person who shot Bennie the Bear

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – After completing its investigation, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says charges will not be filed in connection with the death of Bennie the Bear.

In late October, several Johnsonville residents spotted the large black bear roaming through different neighborhoods. Johnsonville Police Chief Ron Douglass said crews tried to corral the animal and lead him back into the woods, but the bear kept moving into people’s yards and getting trapped and confused. About an hour and a half later, they finally got him back into the wooded area.

SCDNR was there trying to move the bear and the fire department also came in to help.

Lieutenant Benjy Byers with SCDNR says officials realized the bear was wounded the afternoon of Oct. 23 and located the animal lying in the woods that night.

The bear was “lethargic” and blood was found in the woods, Lt. Byers said.

David Lucas with SCDNR says the bear was shot, and authorities know who is accused of the shooting. After conducting an investigation into the bear’s shooting, officials say they don’t have probable cause at this time to file a warrant. The name of the person being investigated was not released by officials.

SCDNR officials went back into the wooded area on Oct. 24 and the bear, affectionately named Bennie by the Johnsonville community, was still in the same area on the ground, only moving its head, so officials made the decision to euthanize the animal.

“We were not just going to let the bear lay there and suffer. In our professional opinion, we decided to euthanize the bear,” said Lt. Byers.

SCDNR says the bear’s body was buried. The burial site is not open to the public.