NEWTON, Mass. (AP) - A young bear stranded in a tree over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton was shot and killed by state environmental police early Sunday morning.
A police officer used a fire truck ladder to reach the bear, which was 40 feet up in the tree, WBZ reported.
Police fired two tranquilizer darts at the bear, but said they failed to subdue the animal.
Police said they shot the bear, concerned it would fall on to the highway and cause an accident. The animal fell on train tracks below.
"We've never seen a bear running up and down Washington Street before," resident Todd Houston told The Boston Globe. "The bear was taking his time, I saw it climb up the tree about midway, then when the police showed up, it went up higher."
Westbound traffic on the Mass Pike in the area was stopped for about two minutes during the incident. State police said environmental officers "neutralized the threat to public safety posed by the bear."
Tom O'Shea, assistant director of wildlife for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, told The Boston Globe that black bears, in particular young males, are moving east in Massachusetts.
"We've seen that the population has increased over time and with that, we have an expanding population moving eastward," he said. "In this particular situation, the bear didn't have any easy escape route."
Mary-Leah Assad, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Environmental Police, said environmental police determined the bear to be a 1-year-old male weighing between 100 and 125 pounds.
There are four options available to ensure public safety and the welfare of the animal when dealing with suburban or urban large animal response:
1. Keeping tabs on the animal from a distance or monitoring on-site is often all that is needed to allow the bear to move on. Usually the job becomes more public relations than public safety as officers try to keep people away from the bear.
2. Trying to encourage the bear to go in a specific direction by using hazing techniques.
3. Chemical immobilants (tranquilizers) may be used if the situation warrants this action. Trained staff from MassWildlife and/or the Environmental Police will exercise this option.
4.The last resort, when an immediate threat to public safety exists and chemical immobilization is not appropriate, is to euthanize the bear. This option is rarely implemented and is coordinated with MassWildlife or the Environmental Police.