Schenectady County

Chances run out for bear who returned for third time

Persistence may pay off for people. For bears, it can get them killed.

Persistence may pay off for people. For bears, it can get them killed.

A young black bear — the same one removed from Albany’s South End on May 1 and from the village of Coeymans on May 8 — was spotted again Thursday, this time in a wooded area on the University at Albany campus.

By Thursday the persistent bear had run out of chances. The state Department of Environmental Conservation deemed it too resistant to the department’s efforts to relocate it, and decided the best option was to kill it.

“We definitely do not consider this the first resort,” DEC wildlife biologist Larry Bifaro said. “We’ve given this animal multiple attempts to try to change its behavior.

“We don’t like to harm animals. That’s why we have a policy to give them a few attempts” to relocate, Bifaro added. “But, after repeated returns, this was unfortunately the final decision.”

Thursday’s sightings began at about 10 a.m., when it was seen in a residential area of Guilderland near the university.

Then at about noon SUNY police contacted the DEC after spotting the bear in the wooded area on campus.

After identifying the bear using its orange ear tag — No. 425 — DEC officials made the decision to have the bear put down. Determining the wooded area was safe to do that, they did so with a shotgun.

Bifaro said zoos don’t take wild bears. The bear appeared healthy but its remains were taken for analysis.

Bear Orange 425 was estimated at between 2 and 3 years old. It was killed after making the more than 90-mile trek from its last release point in far western Delaware County back to the UAlbany campus. The trip took about 11 days. Along the way, it was spotted in southwest Schoharie County May 13.

He was at least the third black bear to be spotted in the Capital Region in recent weeks.

On May 10 DEC officers tranquilized a bear in Schenectady’s Stockade after it climbed a tree in a backyard off Front Street. That bear was released in Delaware County and there’s been no word on further sightings of it. Another bear was spotted and tranquilized this week in the Rensselaer County town of North Greenbush. There was another bear spotting Wednesday in Guilderland, which was possibly Orange 425, officials have said.

Orange 425 was the first bear spotted in the region; it was tranquilized after climbing a tree in a Mount Hope Drive backyard May 1. From there, it was released May 3 in the northern Catskills in the middle of Greene County.

He then started north again, captured May 8 in Coeymans. From there DEC officials took him farther away, to western Delaware County. But he came back. Bifaro said bears have been known to trek back more than 100 miles.

In each trek Orange 425 passed up prime bear habitat. Officials aren’t sure exactly why he kept going, but speculated he may have been pushed around and out by more aggressive and older black bears.

The state black bear population sits at about 7,000 to 8,000, Bifaro said. In the Catskills, that number is about 2,500. The numbers have been growing since the mid-1970s, when the Catskills only had about 250.

The state now has bear hunting seasons, even opening up outlying parts of Albany County in 2006.

As for whether bears are becoming a greater problem or whether the recent sightings are an anomaly, Bifaro said he believes it’s an anomaly. Generally, they see bears in urban settings in the region only every two to three years.

“It’s difficult for me to predict why it happens or if it will continue,” Bifaro said.

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