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Wildlife

Black bear climbs cemetery tree to end trek through downtown Anchorage

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: September 17, 2016
  • Published September 16, 2016

A black bear strayed into downtown Anchorage on Thursday, prompting police to close several blocks as state biologists located and tranquilized it.

Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Castro said the errant bruin was first reported to police just after 6 p.m. near the Aviator Hotel at Fourth Avenue and C Street. The bear also passed near Covenant House at 755 A St., causing a lockdown to keep residents from stepping outside until it had left.

"Tourists were nearby watching the bear and taking photos," Castro wrote in an email.

The bear, which was monitored by responding officers, then wandered southwest into the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery off Sixth Avenue.

"Officers worked with cemetery security to evacuate anyone who was in the cemetery, then locked the gates to prevent anyone from entering the cemetery," Castro said.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesperson Ken Marsh said biologists reached the area at about 7 p.m. Thursday.

"It ended up near the cemetery," Marsh said. "We were actually able to find the bear; it climbed a tree."

When the bear — a healthy, 200-pound adult male — came down from the tree, biologists were able to shoot it with a tranquilizer dart. The bear was loaded into a transport kennel by 9:30 p.m.; Fish and Game ultimately released the animal at an undisclosed location out of town.

Marsh said the bear, which showed no signs of aggression on its downtown foray, had likely strayed south from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson or Ship Creek.

"It found itself downtown and probably was a little confused," Marsh said. "He was doing his bear thing, and before he knew it he was in the city."

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