Coeur d’Alene bear rambles on

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LOREN BENOIT/Press This yearling bear that made its way up trees on North Eighth Street in Coeur d’Alene Wednesday appears to have returned to the nearby mountains.

COEUR d'ALENE — Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials hope the young black bear wandering on Eighth Street in Coeur d'Alene and hanging out in neighborhood evergreen trees Wednesday found its way back to the nearby mountains.

IDFG spokeswoman Kiira Siitari said regional wildlife manager Micah Ellstrom checked out the last tree the yearling bear had climbed and didn’t see it Thursday.

"It sounds like the bear is out of the tree, and we haven't had any new reported sightings," Siitari said. "That's good news for us. Hopefully it has found its way” to the Coeur d'Alene National Forest, which is about a mile away.

Siitari said she couldn't speak to the bear's sense of direction or how it might have managed to return to the woods.

"He's just a little guy, but we're assuming he'll figure out his way," she said of the bear, which weighed about 60 pounds.

A neighborhood resident said Thursday morning that bear-induced excitement on Eighth Street has died down.

Siitari said it was possible that the bear's mother had more cubs this spring and this one got the boot.

Fish and Game officials tried to tranquilize the bear Wednesday, which was about 60 feet up in an evergreen, in hopes of relocating it to a forest.

Those efforts failed because of the tree’s thick foliage. Authorities then elected to leave the bear alone, hoping it would climb down when onlookers below left.

Coeur d'Alene Police, several neighbors and Fish and Game officials kept an eye on the bear for about five hours Wednesday.

Fish and Game officials don't have any reason to worry that the bear had grown accustomed to life in the city. This was the first reported sighting and the bear had not been labeled a public threat.

Authorities think the bear’s getaway suggests it doesn't want to remain in city limits. If bears stay in a city for prolonged periods of time and do acclimate to city life, then it can present a threat — and euthanization becomes a possibility.

Bear sightings in town do happen. In 2014, a black bear was spotted in a tree near Woodland Middle School.

If anyone sees a bear, they’re encouraged to call Fish and Game at 208-769-1414.

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