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Bear found on Grand Rapids’ Westside released ‘several counties north’

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A black bear has been caught and returned to the wild following a wild day on the westside of Grand Rapids Thursday.  The bear wandered the neighborhood before posting up in a tree for all to see.

The rather large bear caused quite a stir. It climbed up into a 22 foot tree and hung out there for about two hours.

"I walked by the window and I kind of did a double take. I was like, 'I think that's a bear,'" says Kelsey Devore, who reported the bear to police.

Seeing a bear out your window is far from common, but for several people in a West Grand Rapids neighborhood, seeing the bear was just the beginning of a chaotic morning.

"I heard some scratching in the back yard and I figured my roommate had left the dog out and I looked over here and the bear had climbed right over this fence and onto the ground right here," says Dustan Luban, who spotted the bear early Thursday morning.

This two year old black bear was spotted wandering around before climbing a tree.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the bear wandered into the area because it was lost.

"If they can't find a home where another bear isn't, then they keep moving and keep moving, and keep moving, and this bear unfortunately decided to come into the city," says John Niewoonder, DNR field operations manager.

DNR crews, workers from John Ball Zoo, animal control and Grand Rapids police and firefighters all worked together to get the bear back on solid ground and out of a residential area.

"We were able to get a good shot on it with our dart gun. We have a chemical that immobilizes the bear, the bear fell asleep- lodged in the tree not very high so we went up and tied a rope around them and lowered it down, or it kind of fell. It landed in real wet dirt so the bear should be fine," says Niewoonder.

That's something the Westside Bear's new friends say they are happy about.

"Just relieved for him that he was out of the tree and to know that he's going to go back home and not be in the city here with us," says westside resident Tracy Jutila.

The "Westside Bear" is now far from the westside.  The DNR says the bear has been safely released several counties north.

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  • Old Bob

    Someone should put that dumb bell DNR agent in a tree and jerk him out. Then we can see if it hurts him when he hits the ground. What is the matter with this man head. The bear was asleep. Put a harness on him and lower it out of the tree. This DNR fool should loss his job out of this deal. What a fool.

    • Mac Woods

      So what do you think bears are made of? Fine bone China and cocktail umbrellas? How should they have removed him from the tree? Should they have asked him? You think that absent the drugs, the bear would have cheerfully submitted to being fitted with a harness? Stay indoors Bob. Stay indoors. It’s obvious from this and many other posts that you have spent perhaps two hours and fifteen minutes outdoors since 1956.

      • Old Bob

        Mac Woods
        Have you ever heard the saying.
        Better than you remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt

        They could have put a harness on him and lowered him to the ground.

        I contacted the DNR manager for the area. He will be taking to the fool who jerked the bear out of the tree

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