Black bear caught near school in Mesa neighborhood


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Updated Friday, May 3 at 11:33 AM

Map: Adobe and Mountain

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MESA, Ariz. -- A black bear is being released back into the wild after taking a nighttime stroll through a Mesa neighborhood.

The good news is that nobody was injured. That includes the bear.

The young bear was spotted wandering around the neighborhood of Adobe and Mountain roads in Mesa around 10 p.m. Tuesday. That's right next to Sousa Elementary School.

While not a huge bear, he is certainly big enough to be dangerous.

The bear made his way to a fenced-in area. Police used their sirens and lights to keep him corralled until an Arizona Game and Fish officers could get there.

That officer tranquilized the bear with a single shot.

Those who live in the neighborhood and saw the bear thought it was pretty exciting, but officers have a reminder for everyone.

"These are wild animals," said Mesa Police Lt. Brian Soller said. "When you see them, don't chase them. Don't try to get close to them because bad things can happen if the bear panics or something. Everything worked out well. The bear is safe. The public is safe. All the officers are safe. So, it all worked out good."

According to AGFD, black bears are common in Arizona, "found in most woodland habitats, including piñon-juniper, oak woodland, coniferous forest, and chaparral."

With the exception of family groups, black bears are generally loners.

"Black bears are characterized as shy, secretive animals possessing considerable curiosity and displaying high levels of intelligence and exploratory behavior," reads the AGFD website.

AGFD says the bear was probably just got lost while exploring and looking for food.

AGFD spokesman Darren Julian said finding a black bear in a neighborhood "is a little more common than people would realize."

The bear, which is believed to be about 2 or so years old, will be released into a safe area in the Tonto National Forest, well away from people.

"Hopefully he doesn't find his way back into an urban area again," Julian said, explaining that the release location will will have ample water and food.

Julian said AGFD did an assessment of the bear Tuesday night and he seems to be in good shape. He also said the bear recovered nicely from the tranquilizer and is ready to go to his new home.

"We're going to get him out there and get him home so he can live out life, hopefully in a natural location," Julian said.