Cape Cod bear doing well after capture, release in Central Massachusetts

The famous ramblin’ bear
The famous ramblin’ bear
Lezli Rowell

The black bear that roamed Cape Cod for more than two weeks, attracting quite a lot of attention along the way, is in good condition after being tranquilized in Wellfleet and released in Central Massachusetts, state wildlife officials said today.

“By 9 p.m. last night the young male bear ... was transported and released by MassWildlife biologists to within the range of other bears in Central Massachusetts,” the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said in a statement. “MassWildlife biologists and environmental police monitored the bear overnight and reported the bear is in good condition.”

The state said biologists placed a tag on the bear’s ear for identification purposes.

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During its vacation on the Cape, the notorious bear was spotted by a handful of residents. But on Monday evening, Lezli Rowell and her family in Wellfleet got an intimate view of the bear’s last stand, which took place around the backyard of her Gull Pond Road home.

“Our neighbor called and said we should bring our dog inside because she had just seen the bear at her feeder,” Rowell said. “We brought the dog in and saw the bear rambling through the wooded edge of the yard. He was quite shy.”

Officials had decided earlier in the day to try to capture the bear because of concerns over safety. In a statement, state wildlife officials said the bear needed to be moved off-Cape for the safety of both the bear and people.

“[The bear] was in a downtown Provincetown location over the weekend, and people were actively seeking the animal in [a] narrow geographic area,” the DFW said.

Rowell said she saw the bear between 4 and 4:30 p.m., and environmental police officers, many of whom have tracked the bear for over a year, arrived soon thereafter to take control of the situation.

“The [environmental police officers] arrived, closed off the area and made a triangle around the area where we last saw the bear,” she said. “The bear was in a very deep hollow of brush and briars, which is tough to get access to.”

After a few hours of monitoring the bear, environmental police prepared to use a rifle-like gun to fire a dart filled with medicine that would immobilize the animal, Rowell said. When the bear made a brief appearance, an officer took aim and fired.

“It was a ‘hold your breath and wait and see’ moment. Unless the dart gets good penetration, it won’t deliver the dosage,” Rowell said. “He ambled off deeper into the hollow and it took a chainsaw to get in and access him; he found a good place to hide.”

Several officers went into the thick brush and placed the bear on a stretcher to remove it from the woods. Rowell said the bear was sedated but not fully unconscious, when it was moved to a vehicle for transport.

“He was still awake and aware, but he was not able to move the large muscles. They were very gentle with it, they fed it water, and we were able to pet the bear,” Rowell said. “They just wanted to move him to an area where he can better find a girlfriend.”

The peripatetic black bear had been spotted in numerous Cape towns since May 27 and is thought to be the same one that frequented much of Southeastern Massachusetts last summer. Officials say he probably got to the Cape by swimming across the Cape Cod Canal.