A chase lasting more than four hours and covering over two kilometres of ravines and backyards ended peacefully for authorities, the community and a bear out for a stroll in Barrie today.
The male black bear was initially spotted in a Sanford Street backyard at 5:36 a.m., Friday.
Barrie police officers began following the bear as he made his way through backyards and side streets.
The bear was tranquillized around 10 a.m.
But it was an unbearably nerve-wracking situation until then.
Barrie police communications co-ordinator Peter Leon told BarrieToday the worry for police was just how far the bear had travelled.
“This was a huge concern as at this time of the morning, people are walking dogs, kids may be in their backyards playing and we have a large and scared bear wandering around,” said Leon. “He made his way in a southwesterly direction and actually almost ended up at Barrie police headquarters on Fairview (Road).”
The bear seemed to be surrounded several times in the area of St. John Vianney Catholic School as police assisted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) in attempting to corner the large animal and tranquillize him.
One tranquillizer shot in a backyard on Debra Crescent missed its target and the bear was on the move again.
Onlookers watched as the bear eventually made his way over to Little Avenue, just behind Mandarin restaurant, and into several backyards on Chieftain Crescent.
The end to the chase came in the backyard of 15 Little Ave., as an unknown number of tranquillizing darts eventually got the bear to go to sleep and be safely removed.
MNRF acting supervisor Suzanne Robinson said the young adult bear was transported to an out-of-area location to be safely released back into nature.
“The best outcome is a safe situation for the public and, at the end of the day, that the bear is also healthy and safe for release,” Robinson said. “Today’s outcome is exactly all of that as we were able to achieve a great ending.”
With the bear safely loaded into the MNRF trailer-container, Leon said he was very pleased with the co-operation of everyone involved, especially the public.
“I can’t stress how important the community’s role was in the great ending to an unusual Friday morning. We thank the public for keeping us updated on when they saw the bear and keeping some distance when we asked,” Leon said. “It doesn’t happen all the time, but it certainly provided a little excitement for everyone here.”
Leon had been keeping the community informed with Twitter updates until he was asked to assist in carrying the large bear into the cage for transport.
“That was a first for me and I’m sure for others. He was quite heavy,” said Leon.
“I do thank the bear for coming to our beautiful city," he added. "We hope he had a great day and hope, even more, he enjoys being in a safer, less exciting place later today when he wakes up.”
For information on preventing and reporting bear sightings, click here.