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Bear still in Albany tree this morning

The bear cub is supposedly located in this tree at Rose Court off of Whitehall Road, Albany.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
The bear cub is supposedly located in this tree at Rose Court off of Whitehall Road, Albany.
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In the spring of 2012, a bear frequented Schenectady's Stockade neighborhood. The story from our archives

— Chris Shumway was startled when police surrounded his home at 42 Rose Court about noon Tuesday.

Albany police and state Department of Environmental Conservation officers arrived at his house after receiving a call reporting a bear sighting in the area.

“All of the sudden the cops came around and told me to get inside the house,” Shumway said.

This morning, the bear was still in the same location — sitting in a tree in Shumway’s backyard, about 70 feet above the ground.

Last night, Shumway's four children stood outside as officers with tranquilizer guns and rifles entered their backyard. They screamed at the officers, “Get the bear! Get him down!”

More than 50 people gathered throughout the afternoon across the street on Clayton Place. They looked up at the nearby tree with binoculars and pointed at the bear, which was barely visible behind the leaves.

The bear weighed about 175 pounds and probably traveled into the area from the Catskills, according to DEC officers on the scene.

“My kids are actually excited about a bear being in the backyard,” Shumway said. “But once it’s go time I’m bringing them inside.”

DEC officers tried multiple times to hit the bear with tranquilizer darts, but were unsuccessful. They then shot the bear with a shotgun, which caused it to run up the tree.

The DEC ultimately made the call to kill the bear “for public safety reasons and its proximity to residential neighborhoods.” But as of 10 p.m., the bear was still in the tree, with DEC officers planning to monitor the situation “overnight if necessary.”

The bear reportedly had double ear tags, which means it has roamed residential areas before and was previously relocated for “nuisance behavior.”

The DEC first received a call at 6:24 a.m. about a bear spotted in Bethlehem. A second call came in two hours later about a bear spotted at the Exit 23 tollbooth on the Thruway.

A car might have hit the bear as it traveled between the Thruway exit and Morton Avenue, the DEC said. But around noon, Albany police received a call that the bear was 2.4 miles away, on Whitehall Road. It was found in Shumway’s tree soon after.

The bear received a lot of attention on the street. People driving by on Clayton Place screamed out their car windows, “Save the bear!” Clayton Place and Rose Court were lined with Albany police cars as helicopters flew overhead.

Around 7 p.m. people huddled on the sidewalk with “Save the Bear” signs while taking pictures with their cellphones. Children lined up with the signs, chanting, “Don’t kill the bear!”

People also took to Twitter to call on the DEC not to kill the bear. NYCLASS, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization, urged people to call DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens and tell him not to shoot the bear.

The bear, nicknamed the Albany Bear, became somewhat of a star on Twitter, as well. The bear now has its own Twitter account — @AlbanyBear2014 — and a hashtag — #AlbanyBear.



May 27, 2014
8:20 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Late this afternoon, the DEC shot the bear with a shotgun. The bear was 60 feet up in a tree. The bear is now 70 feet up the tree. Instead of killing the bear when it came down, the DEC decided to take a risky shot and painfully wound the bear. They will now kill it when it eventually comes down. Apparently, shoot to kill does not apply to our DEC. I understand that the bear needs to be killed, but humane does not seen to be a word the DEC understands. This is not the first time the DEC has shown such cruelty. We need to do better with these increasingly common wildlife situations.

May 27, 2014
9:35 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

They could have placed a baited bear trap at the base of the tree it is in, waited for it to come down on it's own, get caught, and then relocated. The government is relentless in it's efforts to take guns away from citizens, this is an example of why there are too many guns in the hands of government officials.

May 28, 2014
5:17 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

The reported timeline has evolved since yesterday. Apparently, the bear was first shot and wounded by DEC near a school and then ran up the tree. I hope this poor animal’s suffering leads to some positive change in how these encounters are handled in the future.