The Albany bear put up a good fight, but its life came to an end Wednesday afternoon.
A 2-year-old bear sat in a tree 70 feet above the ground behind 42 Rose Court for 24 hours. It sat in that tree after being struck by a car, shot with a shotgun and hit with several tranquilizer darts.
The bear fell down at 12:50 p.m. Wednesday, about two hours after it was tranquilized. The nearly 150-pound bear was “seriously injured” and considered a “dangerous bear with a pattern of aggressive behavior,” the state Department of Environmental Conservation said.
“It is in such poor shape and we have to prevent it from being a nuisance in the future,” Larry Bifaro, a DEC wildlife biologist, told reporters on the scene soon after the bear fell. “It may have risen to a ‘Class 1’ bear, and our protocol requires that those bears be euthanized.”
The male bear had double ear tags, indicating it had been relocated from residential areas before. Bifaro said the tags showed the bear came from Pennsylvania.
The bear was trapped last month in Lackawana County, Pennsylvania, after killing three chickens and damaging a chicken coop, the DEC said. He was later released in Shohola Township in Pike County, then made his way to the Albany area.
“Yesterday, when the bear traveled by schools and through residential areas, it posed a public safety threat necessitating DEC officers’ actions,” said Emily DeSantis, a DEC spokeswoman. “The bear’s nuisance history and injuries necessitated that it be put down under American Veterinarian Medical Association protocols.”
The bear — considered a teenager in bear years — was a traveler, and nearly invincible.
The DEC first received a call at 6:24 a.m. Tuesday about a bear spotted in Bethlehem by Old Route 9W. A second call came in around 8:45 a.m. reporting a bear sighting at the tollbooth on I-787 at Exit 23.
That’s when the bear was hit by a car — twice — and ran into a residential area on Morton Avenue off the highway. The bear was later found in the vicinity of Whitehall Road and Rose Court in Albany around noon.
“DEC officers tracked the bear to a ravine where officers could safely attempt to put the bear down in a secluded area,” the DEC said in a news release. “The wound was not mortal and the bear escaped the ravine and ran up a tree, where it remained overnight.”
Albany police and DEC officers monitored the bear from noon on Tuesday into Wednesday afternoon. A DEC officer was lifted up to the bear in a cherry picker around 10:30 a.m. and shot him with two tranquilizer darts.
But the bear did not fall down from the tree. Instead, he fell asleep. An hour later, National Grid arrived to cut the power to houses on Clayton Place, across from Rose Court, so the officer could safely climb the tree and attempt to shoot the bear again.
That’s when the bear suddenly fell from the tree and landed in a net placed under him a couple of hours earlier. After securing the bear, DEC officers transported him to the DEC’s Wildlife Center in Delmar, where he was euthanized while the tranquilizers were still in effect.
“Euthanizing a bear is always a last resort,” the DEC said in a statement. “We never want to harm wildlife. We exhaust all possible options first and make a determination if the bears are a threat to public safety.”
During the 24-hour event, more than 50 people at a time gathered on Rose Court, Clayton Avenue and Whitehall Road trying to sneak a peak of the bear, which was barely visible behind leaves. Many of the onlookers came equipped with binoculars and cameras.
People driving by on Clayton Place screamed “Save the bear!” out their car windows Tuesday afternoon, while those driving down Whitehall Road held up traffic to look up at the trees on Rose Court.
Starting around 7 p.m. Tuesday, about two dozen people gathered with signs calling on the DEC to not kill the bear. Meanwhile on Twitter, NYCLASS — a nonprofit animal advocacy organization — urged people to call DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens and tell him not to shoot the bear.
Also, Friends of Animals — an international animal advocacy organization — called on the DEC to relocate the bear. The group offered to place the bear in an animal sanctuary in Texas.
The bear, nicknamed the Albany Bear, became somewhat of a star on Twitter as well. The bear soon had its own Twitter account — @AlbanyBear2014 — and a hashtag — #AlbanyBear.
This is not the first time a bear has roamed around the Capital Region. Two years ago, a bear visited the Stockade in Schenectady. The DEC released the bear in Delaware County after it was tranquilized, but it was later killed after returning to Albany.
A bear was also spotted two years ago at Skidmore College, but it was never caught by the DEC and left the area on its own. The bear also earned its own Twitter account, @SkidmoreBear, which is still active.
“The bear determines how long it takes, ultimately, but it required a lot of staff time,” Bifaro said. “We had officers from the entire region helping us out. This bear traveled a long way, which is not unusual for a 2-year-old bear. They are travelers at that age.”