Bear stuck in tree for more than 11 hours finally comes down; climbs up 2nd tree

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A bear that was stuck high atop a tree in Renton has finally come down. (Photo: KOMO News)

RENTON, Wash. -- A large black bear that remained high in a tree near a Renton elementary school Wednesday, finally came down after more than 11 hours, but immediately climbed up another tree.

The bear climbed safely down on its own around 10:45 p.m. But, itwas only on the ground for a matter of minutes before climbing up a second tree nearby, as wildlife agents moved in.

Earlier in the day, wildlife officials had used bean bag guns along with specially-trained dogs and loud noises to try and bring it down.

But, that only caused the bear to scramble higher in the tree. Officers said they will not use tranquilizer darts until the bear is on the ground or close to it.

"There's a lot of houses there's a lot of people, there's a couple of buildings, and of course there's an elementary school nearby," said Jennifer Maurstad from the State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The bear was discovered around 11:30 a.m. about a block away from Highlands Elementary School, said Randy Matheson, spokesperson for Renton School District.

"It's garbage day and it's spring and generically a bear of this size wouldn't be found in Renton unless he has been eating garbage nearby, say in the Renton Highlands or Newcastle area," said Nadine Drisseq with Bear Smart Washington. "Usually we would expect a juvenile this time of year because the juveniles are being run off by their mother."

Tyrone Wilson lives in the neighborhood.

He went out to bring in his garbage cans Wednesday morning when he saw the bear.

"It's beautiful. It's a beautiful thing to see something like this," Wilson said. "I'm watching Mother Nature at work."

Meanwhile, Matheson said school continued as normal Wednesday afternoon, but recesses were held indoors just in case.

Video from the scene showed the bear napping for a bit, and occasionally stretching, but it would not budge from its perch.

"It's not normal to have a bear in this area -- he's obviously been lured by the scent of garbage," Drisseq said. "Bears have the best olfactory sense in the world... and they can smell food from up to about 7 miles off, so he could have come from anywhere -- probably Squak Mountain or Cougar Mountain."

Wildlife officials said the bear doesn't present any immediate danger, as long as people don't try to approach it.

"We want to make sure that people understand that," said Maurstad. "This isn't a bear problem this is a human problem."

The bear again climbed too high in the second tree for wildlife officials to tranquilize it, so they'll remain on scene to monitor the situation.

They're hoping the bear will again come down on it's own.