FRANKLIN – On Nov. 21, the second day of Pennsylvania’s bear season, a call from a concerned citizen sent Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Clint Deniker to the intersection of 15th Street and Tingley Avenue in the Franklin Heights area of Franklin, Venango County. The caller told a dispatcher at the agency’s Northwest Region Office that someone was shooting at a black bear in a residential area.
Deniker was assisted on scene by Deputy WCO Janet Baker, Land Management Group Supervisor Jim Deniker and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Waterways Conservation Officers Mark Kerr and Gregg Pochron.
“This is an unfortunate case of an individual disregarding hunting laws and firearms safety in a reckless effort to kill a bear,” Deniker stated. “Thankfully, someone got involved and we were able to apprehend the violator.”
The defendant, Alphonso Lauricia, 72, of Franklin, while putting gas in his vehicle at a station on 15th Street, spotted the bear in a large oak tree directly across the street from the gas station. Lauricia returned to his residence and retrieved a crossbow and two .308-caliber rifles. Upon returning to the bear’s location, he parked his vehicle on a side street and positioned himself to shoot the bear with his crossbow. The oak tree where the bear was located was four feet from a garage and within 20 yards of at least two other residences. The Game and Wildlife Code specifies that hunters must be at least 50 yards away from occupied buildings if using a bow or cross bow or 150 yards if using a firearm before attempting to take wildlife, unless they have advance permission from individuals whose safety zones they encroach.
The defendant shot four times with his crossbow, striking the bear twice. The bear then descended the tree and fled, with Lauricia firing numerous times with his rifle at the bear as it made its way through the residential neighborhood. Game Commission Northwest Region Director Keith Harbaugh apprehended Lauricia when he brought the bear to the Northwest Region Office – just a short distance south of Franklin Heights – to have it processed and tagged by agency officials.
“This individual’s only concern was killing that bear, apparently at any cost,” Deniker said. “In the process, he violated basic safety regulations and placed the general public in danger.”
Lauricia was charged with three counts of violating the Game and Wildlife Code: unlawful taking of big game; violating a safety zone; and trespass on private property while hunting. He was ordered to pay fines and court costs totaling $1,584 by Magisterial Judge Robert Boyer of Franklin.
In addition, Lauricia likely will have his hunting and trapping privileges revoked for an unspecified period.