The search for a black bear that has been wandering the Lacey area for weeks ended Saturday afternoon with the bear’s demise, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The bear was shot and killed by department officials after it was found in a backyard near the intersection of Mullen Road and Clearwater Drive.
Sgt. Greg Haw said the department had hoped to capture the bear by using tranquilizers, but that the animal climbed into a 30-foot tree, out of range of the tranquilizer guns.
He said that in the interest of public safety, there was no choice but to shoot the bear lethally.
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“It’s tragic; it’s one of those things we don’t want to do,” Haw said. “We try very hard to immobilize it and remove it nonlethally. It simply didn’t cooperate.”
The bear was discovered just before noon by Lacey resident Larry Matthews when he took his dog outside.
“I looked up, and there it was,” Matthews said. “A big, black bear.”
Matthews said he hurried inside with the dog, and he and his wife watched the bear for several minutes before calling 911. While the bear was sitting in Matthews’ yard, it was approached by a stray dog, he said. The stray dog ran away.
“I wasn’t worried about my dog because I locked him inside,” Matthews said. “I was more worried about that stray one.”
Haw said the department considered it fortunate to resolve the bear issue before school starts in September. The animal had been sighted in the vicinity of several schools and was shot only blocks away from Timberline High School.
Haw said the bear was an adult male, weighing about 225 pounds. He said that’s slightly larger than average for a black bear. He said the animal’s carcass will be donated to Nisqually Indian Tribe elders.
“They’ll know how to use it, make sure it doesn’t go to waste,” Haw said.