The right arms for bears: Police pack shotguns

The right arms for bears: Police pack shotguns »Play Video

REEDSPORT, Ore. – A different kind of intruder is on the prowl on the Oregon Coast, one that has police in Reedsport, Ore., arming themselves with an old-school weapon.

The change came about after an increase in bear sightings in and around the city.

It has been years since Reedsport Police officers carried shotguns in their squad cars. However, when an officer was forced to shoot a bear in July after it became aggressive toward a resident, things changed.

"We're in the process of taking our 12-gauge shotguns back out of moth balls, doing some reinforcement training with the officers so they become more familiarized with the weapon," said Chief Mark Fandrey. Officers would carry the shotguns "in the cases where we know a citizen's life is in jeopardy or an officer's life is in jeopardy," Fandrey said.

Fandrey said the department came to this decision after an administrative review.

He also said there are definite advantages to carrying shotguns.

"It has a lot more knockdown power for a bear; it has about a 100-yard range," he said. "It should be sufficient for that purpose and it doesn't have such a range that we have to worry about miss[ing a] shot."

Fandrey said the shotguns will be used only in a threatening encounter with a bear.

There were dozens of reports of bear sightings earlier this summer, he said. However, Fandrey said there have been no reports of bears inside city limits over the past two weeks.