Bear walking near schools captured

May 19 2011 - 2:02pm

SEATTLE -- A young black bear that made its way to a patch of woods between two Bothell schools Wednesday morning was captured by wildlife agents Wednesday evening and was in "good shape," said Sgt. Kim Chandler, of the state Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Wildlife agents found the bear not far from where it was originally spotted. It had climbed up a tree, Chandler said, and agents waited until it came down before tranquilizing it at around 7:30 p.m. He said the bear will be released away from civilization on Thursday.

Passers-by spotted the approximately 2-year-old black bear twice Wednesday morning in the patch of woods between Northshore Junior High School and Woodmoor Elementary School. Both schools went into modified lockdown as a precaution.

"It's typical behavior for young bears like this to have to find their own spot after they get kicked out by their mothers," Chandler said.

Agents shot a tranquilizer dart at the bear Wednesday afternoon, but it's unclear whether they hit it. After the shot, the bear ran briefly out of the woods toward Woodmoor Elementary School, but then re-entered the woods and disappeared.

This is probably the same bear several Kirkland residents saw in their backyards Tuesday morning, Chandler added.

Fish & Wildlife agents brought in a dog to try to locate the bear. Ideally -- as the Bothell bear did on Wednesday evening -- a bear will climb up a tree, then agents can tranquilize it and move it elsewhere, Chandler said.

School officials canceled after-school activities for both Northshore Junior High School and Woodmoor just to be on the safe side, said Leanna Albrecht, spokeswoman for Northshore School District. All students who planned to walk home were to be bused or picked up by parents, she said.

Northshore seventh-grader Ianna Ervin said students were calm, but the announcement that no one could walk home made everyone more nervous.

"Everybody was looking out the windows," she said.

Kirk Buchanan, 45, and his two children walked from their house across the street to check out the site.

The family was more curious than concerned about the situation.

"I want to know where it came from," said Mackenzie Buchanan, 16.

Chandler, while standing just outside the woods, said bears last fall had a harder time finding food than they normally do before hibernation.

"They went to bed hungry and they woke up hungrier," he said.

But he emphasized the bear wasn't looking to hurt anyone. Fish & Wildlife agents were involved only because of the bear's proximity to the schools.

"He's not aggressive, he's not hurting anybody, he's just on the move," Chandler said before the bear's capture.

(c) 2011, The Seattle Times.

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