UPDATE: 5/2/13 6:30 A.M.
A bear moved through the streets of Parkersburg in the middle of the night, forcing officials to make a tough call.
It’s on everyone’s mind, a black bear in the city. Residents found it downtown just wandering around and police tried to find the animal. People have strong opinions about the way it all was handled.
"I think they just should have shot a tranquilizer dart at it instead of shooting it to death,” says Eli Reeves of Parkersburg.
So many people tried to get a glimpse of the bear and take pictures that it posed a huge public safety threat.
"A lot of smaller elementary age school kids outside with flashlights and it was a concern at that point that tranquilizing the bear was probably not the best option at that point based on the volume of people, so that really factored into the decision,” says Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin.
A black bear roaming the streets of downtown Parkersburg was shot dead and it's causing a lot of controversy.
"They could have probably fed that bear and put it in a cage or something, you know,” says Parkersburg resident Harold Yglesias. “There's other ways of capturing that bear instead of just shooting it."
Mayor Bob Newell says the black bear is considered the most lethal wild animal native to this region.
"The calls would be tenfold if somebody had been hurt, maimed, mauled or a dog or anything else,” Newell says. “Yeah, there's always gonna be somebody complaining about anything that is done; I understand that, but this is kind of a ridiculous complaint people calling and wanting to know why the bear was killed. Well, it's a wild black bear, 300-pound adult bear."
The mayor says it's not as if the bear was on the outskirts of the city, it was roaming through the center of town. If there were any other options, he says they would have been taken.
Newell says the city acted on the recommendations of the Division of Natural Resources (DNR).
For one Parkersburg resident, the decision to kill the bear was the right one.
"I believe they done the right thing in shooting the bear -- we don't need wild animals running loose in our city with our children,” says Paul Ruble of Parkersburg.
Chief Martin says things might have turned out differently if so many people hadn’t tried to check out the scene.
UPDATE 5/1/12 6:20 A.M.
Here's something you don't see everyday - a black bear roaming around Parkersburg.
But last night, a big one found its way into the city - sending police on an hour long hunt.
Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin says the bear was first spotted around 11:30 last night in the area of 16th and Latrobe Streets.
Police chased it to 13th Street and Wells Circle, where it hid in some thick bamboo.
The bear then made its way to Quincy Street and Martin shot and killed it in Quincy Park around 12:30 this morning.
Five Parkersburg Police Officers and one Wood County Sheriff's Deputy were involved in the hour long chase.
Jeff McCrady with the West Virginia DNR assisted, as well.
McCrady says it was a male black bear, between 250 and 300 pounds.
He says because it was a big bear and because people in Parkersburg just aren't used to having bears in close proximity, it was necessary to shoot it to keep everyone safe.
No injuries were reported last night.
But as word spread that a bear was on the loose, some people did go outside to a first hand look.
Police say they told those people to go back inside.
Police add that they are thankful this happened late at night, when most people were inside their homes.
UPDATE 5/1/13 1:20 A.M.
Parkersburg Police have shot and killed a black bear in Quincy Park.
Authorities learned at 11:30 p.m. it was running loose in downtown Parkersburg.
It was shot around 12:30 a.m.
No one was injured during the incident.
UPDATE 5/1/13 12:08 A.M.
Wood County 911 dispatchers confirm a wildlife officer is responding to the Wells Circle area, where police have spotted a bear.
We'll keep you updated.
Wood County 911 dispatchers confirm police are in pursuit of a bear in downtown Parkersburg.
It was last spotted near 16th Street.
According to scanner traffic, it is estimated to be 250 pounds.
We'll keep you updated.