Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation says black bear killed after seen climbing trees in Norman backyard was “danger to the public”

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – It was a bizarre situation for homeowners in Norman on Wednesday night.

Officials say a young black bear was seen roaming through yards and climbing trees in the area of Berry and Lindsey in Norman around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Cell phone video captured the moment the 150-pound bear fell from a tree in Meredith Dunn’s backyard. 

“People were contacting us saying, ‘there’s a bear in a house in Norman and you should watch out,’ I had no clue it was my backyard!” said Dunn. 

Dunn and her 11-year-old daughter were in Ardmore when they first learned the bear was in their yard. 

They rushed home to find the animal still there. 

“When you see it in person, it was a lot bigger,” she said. 

Dunn and her daughter stayed inside, and say they never felt like they were in danger. 

Meanwhile, outside, wildlife crews tried to sedate the bear using tranquilizers. 

“We watched for probably a good one and a half, two hours while all of the crews tried to coax it down,” said Dunn. 

Officials say those tranquillizers didn’t work well enough. 

“Once the bear is on the ground, and moving and possibly injured, those tranquilizers wore off pretty quickly, and there was nowhere for this bear to go that he was not going to run into people,” said Micah Holmes, a spokesperson for the Department of Wildlife Conservation. 

After falling from the tree, the bear made its way to the other side of the yard. 

That’s when wildlife officials say they were forced to shoot and kill it. 

“Obviously, it’s not the outcome we were looking for, and it’s not the outcome that I was hoping she would witness or hear,” said Dunn. 

The department says the reason the bear was shot was because it was a “danger to the public.”

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“We don’t want to shoot the bear,” said Holmes. “We all care for animals that’s why we’re in this business, we want to see these populations healthy, we want to see this bear move along, but we don’t want to do that at the cost of public safety.”

Wildlife officials told News 4 they ran out of tranquilizers at the scene. 

They will now take a tooth and hair sample for the animal to learn it’s exact age and where it could’ve come from.

In a Facebook post, WildCare Oklahoma responded to the news of the bear’s death, saying in part, “As human development continues to expand into wild spaces, occurrences like the one that happened last night are likely to increase as wild animals attempt to find food, water, and shelter in increasingly suburban and urban environments.”

WARNING: The following is a graphic cell phone video of Oklahoma Wildlife officers shooting and killing the bear. It may be disturbing to some.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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