Treed bear in Ashland tranquilized, released

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife biologists Sunday tranquilized two young bears who had settled in trees in residential areas in two separate incidents in Ashland and Klamath Falls.

Both bears were unharmed and released into wilderness areas.

Ashland police at about 9:40 a.m. Sunday received a report of a treed bear in the backyard of a house on Dewey Street near downtown Ashland. The bear had been wandering the neighborhood for two to three days and on Sunday settled into a tree, said OSP Fish and Wildlife Lt. David Gifford. Police contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove the bear.

The male bear, which was about a year old and weighed 40 to 50 pounds, was shot five times in 90 minutes with tranquilizers before succumbing to the drugs.

"People were in their homes; there wasn't a large gathering, so there was no immediate public safety hazard," Gifford said. "It was a small animal. We had lethal means had it become necessary."

A USDA biologist first attempted to tranquilize the bear without visible effect.

"The first drugs were a little old, so they didn't have a good effect," Gifford said. "He called another biologist who had a more effective tranquilizer. It took five to seven minutes before the bear was tranquilized."

OSP Fish and Wildlife responded to an almost identical situation in Klamath Falls less than an hour after the Ashland bear was reported.

That 1-year-old bear was reported walking down a residential street and turning up in a tree in the backyard of a house on Wocus Street. The bear was tranquilized and returned to the wilderness.

"It's the time of the year when the bears become active," Gifford said. "They come out of hiberation to find something to eat. These were young bears. Why these bears ended up in urban areas I don't know, other than there is food available in garbage cans and dog food. If they find free groceries, they stick around."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

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