MONROE — It was his first bear capture of this year.
State Wildlife Officer Nicholas Jorg started getting calls about a bear near a home in Monroe’s Fryelands neighborhood around 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Monroe police had received a report of a black bear sitting in a grassy area near Sawyer Street SE and 171st Avenue SE. Officers followed it until Jorg and others from the state Department of Fish & Wildlife could arrive.
“It was hunkering down in one of the older bigger lots when I got there,” Jorg said. “It was trying to hide from people. It was trying to mind its own business.”
As a precaution, Fryelands Elementary School was advised of what was going on.
The bear didn’t move much until the wildlife officers moved in for the capture, and the already hobbled animal didn’t go far. Jorg was able to tranquilize the bear without letting his K-9 partners out of his vehicle.
The adult male ursine weighed perhaps 300 pounds, the officer estimated. One of the bear’s hind legs had an old injury, with an apparent fused fracture, that impaired its ability to move.
The disability would have put the bear at a serious disadvantage protecting his turf from other bears, Jorg said. That might have been the reason he had wandered into the residential area, and likely makes for a bleak future.
“We’re disappointed, but we think the most humane thing for this bear, given its inability to defend its own territory, is that we may have to euthanize it,” he said. “That’s the most likely outcome for this bear.”
Many bears in the area are just now starting to wake up from hibernation.
Before Wednesday, Jorg’s most recent bear capture had been in early December: an adult female hit by a car on the Kitsap Peninsula.
That bear, nicknamed Black Pearl, is recovering from pelvic fractures at the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood. Specialists from the Woodland Park Zoo and the Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle teamed up to perform a life-saving surgery.
On Wednesday morning, Jorg was able to subdue the Monroe bear within an hour and a half or so. But his work day wasn’t over. That afternoon, he got called out to Fall City in east King County to deal with mountain lions who were preying on some goats. He captured three cougar cubs.