Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the second time in six months, a black bear wandered around a St. Paul neighborhood before being shot and killed by police.
Early Sunday morning, a male black bear wandered into the Frogtown neighborhood and climbed up a tree. Police shot him shortly after he made his way down.
Joni Hagen saw what happened. The tree the bear scaled is across the street from her home.
As of Sunday evening, she hasn’t gotten tired of telling the bear’s story.
“I called my mom, I called my brother, I called my sister, I called my other sister,” she said.
Hagen said police blocked off the intersection near 564 Charles Ave. She said she watched alongside officers as the bear sat in the tree.
“They had the spotlight on it for a long time,” Hagen said. “That black bear really blended in with that tree.”
She said that until the bear moved, she couldn’t see him in the night.
Sgt. Paul Paulos, of St. Paul police, said the bear was first spotted shortly after midnight, walking near Dale Street and Lafond Avenue. The bear took to the tree after all the commotion caught up with him.
“It did what it is naturally trained to do – climb the tree,” Paulos said.
A call to the DNR gave police their marching orders.
“The word was: if that bear comes down out of the tree, shoot him,” Hagen said. “And that’s what they did.”
One officer had a rifle. The rest had handguns. The bear’s death started with two shots, Hagen said. Then there were more.
“It just sounded like a 21-gun salute at a funeral…that poor bear,” she said.
Police say they had no choice but to put the bear down; the risk to officers and the public was too great.
People who live near Charles and Kent want to know one thing: how did the bear get to Frogtown?
According to black bear researcher Dr. Lynn Rogers, the bear likely came from Wisconsin and followed the river to St. Paul.
That was the second bear recently spotted in St. Paul. The first incident happened in the eastside Bluffs area, near downtown St. Paul, in December.