Police say they had no choice but to shoot black bear

Photo courtesy of KIRO 7 TV

Lynnwood police say they were forced to shoot a black bear that was loose in a residential area this morning to keep the public and officers safe.

The 250-pound adult bear, estimated to be three or four years old, was first spotted in a woman’s backyard outside the city limits about 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Police called in wildlife officials who unsuccessfully tried several methods to capture the bear, including the use of tracking dogs. The search was called off about 4:30 a.m. after the track went cold.

“Often times those bears will find seclusion in a greenbelt and take a nap,” said Capt. Bill Hebner from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We figured he’s probably taking a nap, let’s do the same.”

Residents called 911 about 30 minutes later when the bear was once again seen running through neighborhoods, growling at homeowners and officers along the way.

Police became concerned as the bear approached Dale Way Park at 191st Street SW and 64th Avenue W. It’s in a heavily populated neighborhood northwest of Highway 99 and 196th Street SW. It was just a few blocks from Lynndale Elementary School.

“Due to the location of the bear and because children were starting to walk to school and bus stops and other pedestrians were in the area, officers needed to take control of the bear immediately,” said Shannon Sessions, police spokesperson. “Wildlife officials had been called out again but were not on scene at the time and police officers don’t carry tranquilizer guns.”

At about 6:15 a.m. the officers contained the bear in a residential neighborhood at 192nd Street SW and 68th Avenue. W. Police say they were forced to shoot and kill the bear with a shotgun as it charged at officers.

Joni Bickel lives near where the bear was shot. “My two girls have to walk to the bus stop between 6:45 and 7:15 a.m. each morning,” she said. “I was thankful that (police) were able to contain and shoot the bear so he wasn’t a danger to my kids or anyone else walking to the bus stops this morning.”

Capt. Hebner says it’s not uncommon to have more bear sightings this time of year. “The bears come out of hibernation in the spring and they have voracious appetites because they haven’t eaten for four or five months,” he said.

He said it’s likely the same bear that was seen in Mill Creek last week and was probably just passing through as it looked for food. They often follow the railroad tracks.

The local Fish and Wildlife office gets about a dozen bear sightings in populated areas each year.

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