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May 19, 2013 11:52 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Bear causes stir in Colorado Springs neighborhood

A 200-pound female black bear caused quite a stir in a Colorado Springs neighborhood on Sunday.

For several hours every eye in the neighborhood around the intersection of Chelton Road and Claremont Street was fixed on what, from the ground, looked like a small brown lump at the top of a very tall tree.

"I was like oh lets go see the bear," explained Crystal Jack, who lives nearby. "I've seen them up in the Rockrimmon area, Stetson Hills and all that but no, never here."

Huge crowds formed around the scene to catch a glimpse of the bear, a rare sight so far inside the city. Parks and Wildlife officers said they had never received any calls for bears in the neighborhood, but it's not unusual for the animals to wander so far into an urban area.

"There's a lot of drainages that run through Colorado Springs, a lot of parks," described Wildlife Officer Tonya Sharp. "It's really not that difficult for them to get on the wrong side of Colorado Springs."

To protect the bear from the public and the public from the bear it was decided to tranquilize and remove it. However, it was a difficult task. Normally the bears are allowed to fall from trees once sedated, but in Sunday's case the bear was up so high and in such thick branches getting it out required creativity and the assistance of the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

"First time ever for me, you don't really train to get a black bear out of a tree," said Lt. Mike Smaldino. "Just kind of treated it like any other kind of rescue that we have, we just have, we have systems that we can setup if it were a person and so we just kind of did that around a bear."

A fire engine ladder was raised to the top of the tree and fire fighters and wildlife officers wrapped ropes and harnesses around the sedated bear and tied them to the end of the ladder. Then, slowly and gently, the bear was pulled out of the tree and lowered to the ground. After a quick check-up from wildlife officers the animal was loaded into a transportation trailer.

Aubrey Adkins, whose tree the bear had spent the day in, was allowed to get up close with the bear and have her picture taken.

"The bear was up there doing its thing and it was fine, it wasn't causing any trouble, but yeah we had lots of people up here," Adkins described. "It was a great day."

Residents crowded around the trailer to snap pictures and get a lesson on bears from wildlife officers. Though it was an exciting day neighbors said they hoped the bear wouldn't cross their paths again.

"I don't want to see her again," Aubrey Adkins said laughing. "She's much safer somewhere else."

Wildlife officers said the bear would be released in the wild somewhere far away from the city.

 

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