A tranquilized bear is loaded into a pickup truck by Massachusetts Environmental Police and covered with bags of ice to keep it cool Tuesday after it was
A tranquilized bear is loaded into a pickup truck by Massachusetts Environmental Police and covered with bags of ice to keep it cool Tuesday after it was captured roaming Pittsfield. (Caroline Bonnivier Snyder / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Wednesday July 18, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A young male black bear who had spent the last week roaming through Pittsfield's West Side neighborhood was placed back in the wild Tuesday after it was captured near St. Mark School on Columbus Avenue Extension.

After numerous residents reported the bear roaming in an area adjacent to Onota Street throughout the day on Tuesday, Mas sachusetts Environ mental Police officers were able to safely tranquilize the animal in a wooded area by the school's entrance.

Several Pittsfield police, fire and animal control personnel assisted the state officers in hauling the bear out of the woods. The bear, which weighed an estimated 150 pounds, was lifted into the bed of a pickup truck operated by environmental police officers as a small crowd of adults and children looked on.

Large, ice-filled trash bags were packed around the bear to keep it cool as it was transported to an undisclosed state park for release.

West Side residents who had been tracking the bear told The Eagle it had become a regular visitor to the neighborhood where it foraged for food.

"He's been here for the past week, mainly coming out at night," said John Skubel of Onota Street. "One time we couldn't see him, but we saw this white bag of garbage go by in the dark."

On Tuesday, the bear attempted to lunch on leftovers on Walnut Avenue, according to former Mayor Sara Hathaway, who lives on that street.

"I watched as the bear went into a neighbor's yard and came out carrying a [plastic] trash can in its mouth," she said.

Betsy Halla and her three children, Allan, Sam and Elizabeth all got a glimpse of the bear from their house on West Union Street by Conte Elementary School.

The youngsters say it was the first time they had been that close to a bear.

"When I saw him he was running," said 12-year-old Allan.

Betsy Halla can't remember seeing a bear in the 30 years she's lived on the West Side, but she wasn't surprised that one would caused quite a stir in the neighborhood.

"We have a lot of woods here between the schools," she said, referring to the area between Conte and St. Mark. "I'm sure they have been around."

It is believed the bear may have wandered into the city from the nearby Pittsfield State Forest, which is roughly four miles from the area where it was captured.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.