Bear In Tree Brings Wildlife Crews To Wagoner County

Thursday, May 22nd 2014, 11:27 am
By: Craig Day

State wildlife workers will try to trap a black bear that wandered behind a house near Coweta in Wagoner County.

For the couple who lives at the house, seeing a bear in their backyard comes as quite a surprise.

Judy and Gene Wall enjoy sitting on their back porch drinking coffee in the morning.

Their day started with a big surprise when a tree branch creaked and Judy grabbed her binoculars.

"Grabbed them and I'm like, ‘Oh my Gosh!," she said. "So I'm running back up to him. ‘Oh my Gosh it's a bear!'"

What they thought might be a raccoon making noise, turned out to be a black bear that was lounging high up in the branches of a giant cottonwood tree.

"I said ‘oh no, that can't be a bear,' but it is," Gene said with a laugh. "It don't happen every day does it, bear comes and gets up in your tree?"

The couple called the wildlife department. Experts say it's likely a 2.5-year-old male weighing 120 pounds.

Male black bears often wander in late spring, just before mating season, as they're forced to find new territory by more dominant males.

"They just head out across the country here looking for new territory and they run into people here," The wildlife department's Craig Endicott said.

The bear population is steadily growing in Oklahoma. The wildlife department estimates there may be as many as 2,000 black bears in the state, most are in southeastern Oklahoma. A couple of hundred are in the northeastern part of the state.

Usually, the bear would be tranquilized and moved away from the neighborhood.

But since he's 60 feet up in the tree, wildlife experts will wait him out.

"He's so high up and there's a lot of stuff up under the tree where we'd have a difficult time trying to catch him with one of our nets," Endicott said.

The bear will be relocated to public land in eastern Oklahoma.

For Judy and Gene Wall, they're just enjoying watching the bear as it lazily hangs out in the neighborhood.

"He's not hurting anybody," Gene said.

The wildlife department has a trap set, which is baited with a couple of bear favorites -- sardines and donuts.

They hope they'll be able to catch him when he gets hungry, then he'll be relocated.