Generally speaking, you have a right under the law to use reasonable force to defend your life, your family and your property.

But what defines a legitimate threat if you come across a bear?

That's what a Kentucky jury must decide when Terry Brock goes on trial in September for killing a 250-pound black bear (search) in his backyard.

Over the last few decades, the black bear has been on the comeback in Kentucky, after years of over hunting almost led to its disappearance. But the animal remains protected because the population is still slightly less than a thousand.

Brock says he regrets shooting the bear, but that it was swatting his dogs, and had his horse so spooked he feared it would break its leg.

He says he tried to scare the bear off by banging on his mobile home, and that his wife called the Kentucky Department of Wildlife (search) for advice. In the end, Brock claims the bear left him with no other choice, because it seemed ready to attack.

But according to the state the evidence suggests otherwise -- the black bear seldom attacks people and is a shy creature by nature.

If convicted, Brock faces 30 days to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. Brock says the thought of jail scares him -- but not as much as the bear did.

Go to the video link at the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.