Bear in Raleigh: Cub up tree at Rex Hospital is scared, will likely leave when sun sets, expert says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina Wildlife Commission plans to monitor the black bear up a tree at Rex Hospital and hope it finds its own way out of town in the coming days.

Wildlife Management Division Chief Brad Howard said the bear is likely a male black bear between 1-1.5 years old. Howard said this time of year the momma bears push their sons off on their own as she starts to prepare for her next litter.

The bear was first spotted by nurses, doctors and other bystanders in the parking lot of Rex Hospital in Raleigh on Tuesday morning.

Howard said the bear likely wandered into the area overnight and then went up the tree at daybreak when he saw so many people in the area.

"He's just chilling out here right now, hoping that it's going to get dark and all these people are going to go away, and he can come down and find his way back out of town. And he found his way in here, so he can find his way out."

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Howard said the safest way to handle this situation is to monitor it and hope the bear figures it out himself.

"This is a rather traumatic experience for him right now," Howard said. "His thinking right now is: 'How can I get out of here safely?'"

This scenario is becoming more common throughout North Carolina as black bear populations rebound and grow and human settlements continue to expand.

Howard said the biggest threat in these cases is the bear wandering into traffic, getting hit and causing a traffic incident. Wildlife Management will be monitoring the bear to make sure that does not happen.

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Howard expects the bear to come down overnight and head back out to the woods, but he said the bear might hang out in the tree for a couple days.

If the bear remains in the tree for several days, Howard said his department would reconsider their options.

Howard pointed out that many people ask why they don't just tranquilizing the bear and move it to safety. He said tranquilizers do not work immediately, so the bear may get scared after being shot and run off causing more problems.

Plus, even if the bear stays in the tree until the tranquilizer takes hold, he will then likely fall out of the tree and hurt himself.

Howard said the plan is to let this situation remedy itself, and for that to happen he asks people not to congregate in the area for a chance to see the bear.
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