Black bear rescued from tree

KINGSTON — A 200-pound black bear was rescued in Kingston Monday afternoon as state and local officials spent hours trying to safely remove it from a tree in a residential neighborhood.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol responded to the scene in which a bear was seeking refuge high in a tree on 26000 block of Ohio Avenue.

After several hours, WDFW officials shot the bear — which was 60 feet off the ground — with three tranquilizer darts. About 10 minutes after the third shot, the bear fell, striking branches on the way down before landing in a roadside ditch.

WDFW spokeswoman Marian Snyder said the decision to tranquilize the animal was made with both the safety of the bear and the public in mind.

“It was a public safety issue. This happened in an urban area rather than a rural area,” she said. “There were many things that had to be taken into account. If the bear comes down out of the tree on its own, how is it going to be monitored? A bear in an urban area is unsafe for people living there and the bear itself.”

NKF&R provided state workers the extension ladder needed to reach the bear at its high vantage point.

“We provided an elevated platform ladder to help (WDFW) to effectively complete their mission of immobilizing the bear,” said NKF&R Public Information Officer Michéle Laboda.

Following the fall, officials quickly determined that the animal had survived its descent. Crews from the agencies helped load the bear into a cage before it was transported from the scene.

WDFW Sgt. Ted Jackson was thankful the bear didn’t die from the fall.

“The bear is alive,” he said. “We’re going to take the bear towards the National Forest away from all of the activity of the city.”

Jackson said while the majority of the public thinks bear sightings only happen in forests, instances like this can sometimes prove otherwise.

“We’ve seen bears in downtown Bremerton before. This kind of thing can happen anywhere,” he said.

Bob Lowman, who has lived on Ohio Avenue for 20 years, said he’d never witnessed anything like it. Lowman had his binoculars out, viewing the bear in the tree from afar.

“I guess I will be keeping the bird feeder empty from now on,” he said. “I have never seen a bear around here. I definitely haven’t seen a bear this close to the house.”

Fellow Ohio Avenue resident Amy Atkinson has had a much different experience regarding the presence of bears during the past 11 years.

“Probably about a month ago I’ve seen this bear in our backyard,” she said. “I assume it’s the same one. It was standing on its hind legs and my husband walked around the corner and nearly came nose to nose with it outside.”

Previously, Atkinson said she’s seen a younger much smaller bear than the 200-pound animal that was in the tree Monday afternoon.

“About six or seven years ago I saw a very young bear down the street,” she said. “This is the third time I’ve seen a bear since I’ve lived here. I’m not scared of the bear, and I hope it’s OK.”

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