from The Worcester Telegraom and Gazette

HOME   Police shoot bear wandering in city

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Animal Attack

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By Lee Hammel Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER-- A bear that attacked a chained-up dog had to be destroyed yesterday, an environmental policeman said.

A single shotgun blast killed the approximately 2.5-year-old female black bear, according to Environmental Police Officer Edward F. Johnson. It happened about 6:15 p.m. in a back yard on Stafford Street.

Johnson, who had the day off, was called to the area, where he joined three or four Worcester cruisers. There have been numerous sightings around Worcester -- from Holden Street, where three bears were seen, to Webster Square -- over the past four weeks, as well as in Leicester and elsewhere. A bear was seen at 7 a.m. yesterday in the Sword Street Industrial Park in Auburn.

The Environmental Police's tranquilizer team was summoned, but the bear had ambled off before it could get there.

Johnson said he arrived in the Genesee Street-James Street area at 5:15 p.m. and monitored the animal, hoping it would disappear into the woods. “It got down on the railroad tracks and headed for Leicester, made a sharp turn and ended up on Stafford Street in Worcester,” he said.

The bear wandered in and out of back yards, Johnson said. A crowd that had gathered was being kept on the other side of Stafford Street, he said.

Johnson said, “We almost had to shoot it (the bear) with a handgun. The thing started coming out at the street.

“Cruisers with sirens and horns kind of turned it back. It was starting to get aggressive from us trying to keep it in a safe area.”

Finally, whether a dog in a back yard frightened the bear or the bear frightened the dog, the bear attacked the dog and the bear had to be shot, Johnson said. “It wasn't a pleasant thing.”

Johnson said he did not have an animal tranquilizer and the tranquilizer team based in Springfield did not arrive until after the bear was dead.

While the bear seen in Auburn yesterday morning may have been the same one that was shot last night, Johnson said he saw a different bear in Leicester about two months ago.

“I wouldn't be surprised if there's three or four more” bears in the area, he said.

While bears are common west of the Connecticut River, Johnson said, “I've been on for 20 years and this is the first year we're getting this many sightings and calls and complaints on bears” in Worcester.

© 1999 Worcester Telegram & Gazette

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