The small black bear that drew a considerable crowd while loitering in a tree behind a southwest Medford bar Thursday has hit the road.
Medford police Sgt. Justin Ivens said the bear climbed down from the tree shortly after dark Thursday between 9:30 and 10 p.m. and left the area on its own.
"Obviously our goal is that this resolves itself and nature takes its course," Ivens said. "Luckily that's what happened here."
The animal was first seen Wednesday night by Medford patrol officers. It lounged in a sycamore tree near a Dutch Bros. Coffee stand and the Timeout Sports Bar near the intersection of Stewart and Columbus avenues all day Thursday. The area was cordoned off by police, but the bear still drew a crowd, fueled partly by social-media posts about the treed animal. A bar patron even gave it a name: Buford.
State wildlife biologists recommended that officers keep a sharp eye on Buford during the day, then back off when night fell so the bear could climb down on its own. Ivens said the lack of a nearby gaggle of onlookers played into Buford's departure.
"The bear's not going to do a whole lot," he said. "It's scared. The less people the better."
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists said Thursday that bears are in Medford frequently and occasionally are spotted in trees.
In 2014, Medford police shot and killed two bears in southwest Medford after they were deemed public safety threats. In 2009, ODFW tranquilized two bears. One tranquilized in Hawthorne Park ran through blackberries and into Bear Creek, where it passed out and drowned. Another was tranquilized near Lone Pine Elementary School, then transported to northeastern Klamath County. That animal came back about 10 days later, covering 78 miles before it was shot legally by a hunter less than two miles from the school.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.