May 13, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
The black bear captured and euthanized last week after a day of wandering around the Stanley Road area in Geddes had a habit of crossing into residential areas, according to the Department of Conservation.
Residents early Thursday morning reported seeing a six-foot black bear on Stanley Road in the town of Geddes.
Geddes Police Captain Vic Gillette said the first sighting occurred around 6:45 a.m. near Route 695; two more sightings were reported shortly afterward, near the Parsons Meadows residences in Fairmount.
Local schools cancelled recess and outdoor activities throughout the day.
Westhill Superintendent Stephen Boccialatt said Cherry Road School was in “lock-in” state during the day – classes and activities proceeded as normal, but no one was allowed outside the building.
Extra people were stationed outside the building during the morning bus drop-off, and parents were notified by phone of both the bear sightings and the actions taken by the school.
Bocciolatt said he thought it worked well, and parents seemed to appreciate the actions taken by the school.
“We wanted to keep things going and yet be cautious,” he said.
The young male black bear was tranquilized by Rosamond Gifford Zoo employee Tom LeBarge around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, after residents reported the bear was back on Stanley Road. Apparently, it never left the area.
Geddes Police Captain Vic Gillette said the bear was apparently spooked by the small crowd of neighbors and hopped over a fence, into a wooded area behind the homes where it climbed a tree. The bear was in the tree when it was hit with a tranquilizer dart and slid to the ground.
It was transported by zoo employees to Kindred Kingdoms Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Pennellville, where it was to be observed before being released back into the wild.
Ward Stone, the pathologist who examined the bear post-mortem, said the bear had apparently eaten very well just prior to being killed.
“It was well on it’s way to recovery,” Stone said.
The bear reportedly had trouble recovering from the tranquilizer, a statement inconsistent with the amount of food the bear had eaten shortly before being killed.
Stone said the cause of death was a gunshot to the head, which seemed unusual.
More tests will be run on the animal, including rabies.
Stone said he found the bear had been shot with lead birdshot and the wounds had healed.
Region 7 Wildlife Manager Marie Kautz said the bear was initally tagged on April 4 after it entered residential property in the Waterloo area, where it destroyed bird feeders in search of birdseed.
The bear was captured and tagged and released into the wild. Rubber buckshot was fired at the bear as a negative conditioning method, to encourage it to stay away from humans.
But it did not work – the bear returned to the area and broke through a side door into an attached garage of a home.
The homeowner encountered the bear and scared it away. At that point, the bear was slated for destruction – the DEC policy is to destroy a bear that enters an occupied dwelling.
“The key factor for this particular bear is breaking and entering,” Kautz said.
A trap was set by the DEC, but was removed after three unsuccessful weeks.
When the bear was sighted in Geddes on Thursday, Kautz said there were reports of a green ear tag.
“Had we known Thursday morning the color of that ear tag, we probably would have gotten in the air or on the ground with a receiver,” Kautz said.
Kautz said she did not have an explanation why the bear was tranquilized and transported to a rehab facility and not euthanized upon capture.
It is not unusual for young male bears to travel up to 125 miles in search of new territory, and there is no way to predict which direction they will go, said DEC Wildlife Biologist Dave Riehlman.
“Prospects of this sort of thing happening down the road are on the rise,” said Riehlman.
He said at the turn of the twentieth century the bear population was struggling, but is now expanding around the state.
Riehlman’s advice for people is not to provide meals for bears or other wildlife, as animals begin to associate humans with a food source and become too comfortable with people.
One way many people inadvertently do that is by feeding birds during the summer, Kautz said.
People should also be careful with storage of pet food, trash and barbeque grills, all of which can easily attract bears and coyotes.