Environmental Police defend decision to shoot bear in Newton

JUST POSTED: Police shoot and kill bear this morning in Newton near Mass Pike Sanjay Salomon for Boston.com
Police shot and killed a bear Sunday morning in Newton near the Turnpike.
Sanjay Salomon for The Boston Globe

Massachusetts Environmental Police are facing a storm of criticism over their fatal shooting of a black bear in West Newton on Sunday, but the agency is defending its decision.

“That decision was unfortunate. We don’t make those decisions lightly, and it’s always a last resort for us. It would have been difficult to haze him out of the area,” said Environmental Police Lieutenant Colonel Chris Baker.

Asked about the shooting at a State House media availability this afternoon, Governor Deval Patrick said, “I don’t know all the details about it.”

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The bear made his way up a tree early Sunday in Newton near the Massachusetts Turnpike. The bear had been shot dead by about 7:30 a.m. A spokeswoman for the Environmental Police said Sunday that “tranquilizing was too difficult to accomplish."

She said the decision to kill the bear, a male that weighed between 100 and 125 pounds, was “because of the proximity to the MBTA lines, Mass. Pike, and the urban environment and population.”