Bear in tree in North Carolina lured down with jelly donuts, police say

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A young American black bear that temporarily made its home in a tree at UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh earlier this week was lured down with jelly donuts on Wednesday morning, according to Raleigh police.

The bear sat in a tree all day on Tuesday after likely crawling up overnight, officials said.

On Tuesday night, crews laid out jelly donuts and sardines in hopes the bear would come down from the tree and leave. The plan worked as the bear climbed down around midnight, ate some of the jelly donuts, and then left the hospital.

The hospital remained open all day Tuesday as UNC Health said there was no threat to the public.

“I was telling someone earlier, at least it’s not a cobra,” said Karen Alexander, a hospital visitor.

She and other patients along with health care workers looked into a far-off tree hoping they could catch a glimpse.

“[It’s let us] take our minds off everything we’ve been going through. I like the bear,” said Kevin Evans.

It’s not an animal people expect to see in such a busy, high-traffic area.

“I live in Zebulon, so coyotes are a problem out there, but not bears – not yet,” Evans said.

“I just hope it doesn’t get harmed in the process of getting down,” Alexander said.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said this is the time of year male cubs leave their mothers, so it is not uncommon to see black bears moving around wooded areas.

Brad Howard, chief of the North Carolina Wildlife Management Division, said the bear found its way into the tree on its own so it can find its way back to the woods on its own.

“He’s up there wondering, ‘Oh my, what did I get myself into?’ And so his thinking right now is, ‘How can I get out of here safely?'” Howard said.

Wildlife experts and Raleigh animal services planed on letting the bear come back down the tree on its own. Officials said on Tuesday that the bear was likely to stay overnight as it waits for the busy parking lot to quiet down. There were no plans for a tranquilizer or forced removal and it turned out not to be necessary anyway.

The wildlife resources commission said it’s not an aggressive animal.

“He absolutely is not a threat in my opinion,” Greg Batts, a wildlife biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, told CBS 17 on Tuesday afternoon. “He is frightened. He wants out of town as badly as everybody watching wants him out of town. I can guarantee you that.”  

“Let nature play its course the way we typically see it do in these environments. Suddenly he’ll just be gone and maybe we’ll hear from him again, maybe we don’t,” Howard said.

Brothers Wally and Kelly Becker wanted to see the bear for themselves Tuesday.

“It just brings old memories back,” said Kelly. 

“We are from the Catskills in New York. We are used to black bears so this is fascinating,” added Wally.

It’s not the first black bear spotted in the area. Bears were also spotted in neighborhoods around North Hills and northwest Raleigh in June.

“Was it the same bear? Very well could have been. It’s just as likely that it’s a totally different one,” Howard said.

“The biggest threat we have is it comes down the tree and runs out in the road. We certainly don’t want him to get hurt. We don’t want to cause a vehicle accident,” he said.

Police said there were no issues after the bear climbed down, enjoyed his treat, and left.

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