UPDATE: After a black bear made its way into downtown Roanoke, crews were able to get the bear out of a tree safely.
No one’s quite sure how he did it, but a year-and-a-half old male black bear somehow found its way into a tree on Church Avenue SW next to a parking garage. And he brought with him a lot of attention.
“I’ve been here for about 13 years,” said Mary Yanez, who lives in Roanoke. “And [it’s] the first time I ever hear [of] a bear in Roanoke, downtown.”
Many people came out to watch as police, firefighters and officers from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries worked to get the bear down Monday afternoon.
“I think it was probably trying to go to Texas Tavern to get some chili and a burger,” said Garrett Brumfield, who lives downtown.
Brumfield watched nearly all of the three-hour ordeal.
“It’s not something that happens every day,” Brumfield said. “You see bears in the woods, and you don’t normally see bears in the city.”
According to officials, the bear is safe and sound after being tranquilized and safely pushed out of the tree.
According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the bear population is on the rise in the commonwealth, especially in Roanoke County.
“With the bears looking for new habitat, it’s just a matter of time before they end up in a urban situation like this,” said Dan Lovelace of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
There’s no need for people downtown to worry, with just three bears reported downtown in the past five years, Lovelace said. They are not aggressive if unprovoked, so if you do see one, it’s best to keep your distance, he added.
“If they get in an environment like this, they’re more afraid of people than people should be really of them,” Lovelace said. “Just give them space, let them wander, and hopefully, like this one did, they get in a tree that way we can respond safely.”
The bear will typically wake up about an hour after it has been tranquilized, Lovelace said. He has been taken to a new environment at least 100 miles away to establish territory in a new area.
Authorities have blocked off a street in downtown Roanoke after someone spotted a black bear in a tree.
It’s happening near Church Avenue and 2nd Street.