Black bear captured after wandering around Rockville, Bethesda
BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) - A black bear was finally captured Thursday afternoon after spending much of the day wandering in areas of Rockville and Bethesda in Maryland.
The male black bear, estimated at about 100 pounds and about a year-and-a-half years old, made an appearance at one point near the National Institutes of Health Metro stop.
"He was walking, he was scratching his back against the tree," says Bethesda resident Evangeline Durkee.
Bears in Maryland are not a shock -- but bears inside the beltway are.
While the animal -- popularly dubbed the "NIH Bear" -- was still in the tree, he had a Twitter account made for him, where he razzed police and wildlife officials who had come to get him. After his capture, the bear continued to tweet about life after being caught:
Sometimes I wonder if one bear can make a difference. And then I singlehandedly bring a major government entity to its knees. #believe— NIH Bear (@NIH_Bear) June 19, 2014
The bear is believed to be the same one who's been hanging around Montgomery County for at least a week.
"I was afraid they might euthanize the poor thing, but I'm glad they didn't," said Evangeline Durkee of Bethesda, Maryland.
"He's covered a couple dozen square miles in a highly populated part of the world, and no bad things have happened," said Paul Peditto, Director of Wildlife Division at Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Once security moved in, the bear took off and got as far away as he could from the mass of onlookers and the crowd assembled to capture him.
Hours passed, and the bear refused to budge as he clung to a tree – but the Department of Natural Resources ruled out shooting him with a tranquilizer gun while he was so high in the sky:
"We were not inclined to shoot a dart into him. They don't fall right over and in the event you hit them in the wrong place, you kill them," explained Paul Peditto.
Instead, they decided to use a noise gun – a small pistol with a big sound.
After several loud shots, there was some movement as the bear made his way back to the ground where a tranquilizer gun awaited him. He made it onto the NIH campus before he collapsed, and a DNR crew loaded up the slumbering bear and prepared him for his trip back to the wild – a relief for some who watched the ordeal play out.
Even before the capture, police had maintained the bear did not pose a public safety threat as it was not near any residential neighborhoods.