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Bear shot in San Bernardino County raises questions about nature, safety

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A woman's decision to have a bear shot and killed has raised questions about where to draw the line between protecting nature, and protecting human lives.

Julie Faith Strauja had recently moved into the Forest Falls community, located near Redlands, with her three kids. Within a month, she had some run ins with the bear. It had invaded her property, and had broken into her kitchen one day. Strauja had reported the incidents to authorities. But it wasn't long before the final straw came.

"It tried to get in one more time, but she managed to use bear mace to get it away. And then a few hours later, it actually broke into her home through the bathroom window, and attacked her dog," said Beatriz Valenzuela, a reporter for the San Bernardino Sun who covered the story. "This was very early in the morning, so her children were home, everybody was home when this happened."   

Strauja got the bear out, and then got a permit from Fish and Wildlife to have the bear shot and killed. 

The animal's death sparked outrage in the community.  

"People who live here love their bears. They take great pride in being able to live one with nature. So the idea of someone killing the animal did not go over very well initially," said Valenzuela.

Then came the online threats.

"One person in particular did post something to the effect of 'If anybody wants to legally make her life a living hell, contact me, we're going to run her out of town,'" Valenzuela said. "A few other people, I think this was before they knew all the details, they posted, 'This person needs to be strapped to a chair and left out in the wilderness and let nature take its course.'"

After more details emerged, Valenzuela said some people began to show support.

"I've also spoken to people and seen other social media posts where they have supported her and said, 'The bear had already broke in twice. It attacked a dog, what if it was a child?'"

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.