Bear cub found roaming Mesa neighborhood returned to wild - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Bear cub found roaming Mesa neighborhood returned to wild

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MESA, Ariz. -

It's an unusual sight in the middle of a city. A bear cub, running loose near a school in Mesa. The cub actually wandered into a fenced area, which made catching this guy a lot easier for Game and Fish.

Our cameras were there as wildlife crews prepared the young bear for its return to the wild. He was ear tagged, so they will know his history if they ever run into the bear again.

By now, the wayward bear is back home in the forest where he belongs.

After a wild night on the prowl in a Mesa neighborhood -- which included a run-in with local authorities, a police chase, being shot by a tranquilizer and a night in the slammer -- this young black bear was a little drowsy.

"He's been up and alert when we got here about 6:30, 7. The drugs have worn off, he's ready to be released," says Darren Julian, Game and Fish.

The black bear is about 100 to 120 pounds, with a blondish coat, probably about 2 to 2-and-a-half years old, says Game and Fish.

It's likely he recently left his mother somewhere in the mountains east of Mesa.

"So as they are trying to find their place in the world, they get pushed into worst and worst habitat, they just keep going. They follow their nose. All he was doing was looking for food and looking for a place to live."

When helicopters started circling her Mesa house Tuesday night, Kathy Frank thought there was a manhunt in the area.

"At this point, I lock all my doors, I don't know what's going on," says Kathy Frank.

She soon discovered it was a bear hunt right next to her home.

"We've had coyotes come down, but never a bear but it was little exciting."

Game and Fish officials wet the young bear down before driving him two hours east of Mesa to the Tonto National Forest.

"We'll put him in a location far enough from people. Hopefully he'll stay there, hopefully there's good enough food sources and water and hopefully he can live his life there," says Julian.

This is the first bear incident of the year. Will we have an active bear year in some of these areas? Game and Fish says that depends on the drought, and on how active the fire season is -- whether it disrupts their habitat.

While that bear didn't attack anyone, you may remember that last summer was an especially bad bear season.

The Ponderosa Campground in Payson was closed after 3 bear attacks in one month. All 3 victims survived. But there was one deadly attack in 2011.

61-year-old Lana Hollingsworth was walking her dog in Pinetop when she was mauled by a black bear. She died from an infection caused by bacteria carried in the bears' claws.


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