Bear eludes capture

Published 3:07 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

By Staff
People warned not to feed or harass animal
Staff Writer
One might say the suspense in Washington was unbearable Tuesday.
Residents crowded into streets for a glimpse of a young, male black bear that was first spotted in the city Monday night. The bear later eluded pursuers and remained at large — perhaps headed for the woods — Tuesday afternoon.
Dogs went wild barking at the bear Monday night, said Lt. William Chrismon with the Washington Police Department.
He said wildlife often finds its own way out of the city if left alone, either swimming the river or wandering to the outskirts of the city.
The first sighting of the bear Tuesday was near Fourth and Market streets. Residents rushed outside and cruised area streets in cars, hoping to catch a glimpse of Ursus americanus.
Chrismon said a major worry is that the bear could be spooked into traffic and cause an accident.
After briefly bringing the ursine intruder to bay in a backyard on West Sixth Street, police pursued the bear to a patch of brush north of the intersection of Ninth and Respess streets, where it holed up.
Later, officers with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission beat the brush to force the bear farther north as Washington police officers kept watch.
The officers wanted to push the bear into Oakdale Cemetery, in the hope it then would move into the fields beyond, but they lost track of it east of Market Street between 12th and 13th streets.
Officers eventually gave up on their search and waited to see if more sightings would be called in or the bear would find its way out of the city on its own.
They responded to a later call that the bear had been seen near Respess Street, but were unable to locate the furry fugitive, said Officer William Cain III with the Wildlife Resources Commission.
Cain said the bear was a juvenile and estimated its weight at a maximum of 125 pounds.
Cain said the bear likely followed a ditch or creek into the city, looking for food.
Cain said residents shouldn’t feed the bear or approach it.
Cutline for corresponding photo: This bear eluded police officers Tuesday on his run through the city. It hopped fences and ran down streets, eventually losing police east of Market Street. (Contributed Photo/Washington Police Department/Detective Jesse Dickinson)