After hours of searching, authorities were unable to capture a young male black bear discovered in downtown Fulton Sunday night.
Residents of the mountain village of Callebas, Haiti, including Melanie Augustin, left, and Sorianta Leantus, second from right, pose for a photo Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010. Parents in this struggling village said they willingly handed 20 children over to the American missionaries who promised the kids a better life, contradicting claims by the Baptist group's leader that the children came from orphanages and distant relatives. Augustin gave away her 10-year-old daughter, Jozin, and Leantus, who's pregnant with her third child, gave away her a 6-year-old daughter to the American missionaries who were later arrested by Haitian authorities after trying to cross the border with the children without the required paperwork.
Officers from the Fulton Police Department, Callaway County Sheriff's Office and Missouri State Highway Patrol as well as Fulton firefighters searched the downtown Fulton area Sunday night for the bear. Bob Lyons, conservation agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation, was also on scene to assist the search.
Lyons said when he arrived in downtown Fulton around 8 p.m. Sunday, the bear had climbed up a tree in a backyard off of E. Sixth Street. The bear had climbed the tree because it was scared and unfamiliar with its city surroundings, Lyons said. He added that bears do not like to be around humans.
"I was advising to get him out and get him our of town so he wouldn't be injured by anybody and he would be safe," Lyons said.
Fulton firefighters used a ladder to shine a light on the bear in the hopes of scaring it down around 9 p.m. Eventually, the bear, which Lyons said was shot twice with a tranquilizer, climbed down but took off before authorities could capture the animal. Lyons added that the tranquilizer was enough to slow the bear down, but not cause harm to it. Authorities consulted a veterinarian before using the tranquilizer, Lyons said.
Officers told local residents to stay indoors Sunday night after the bear came down from the tree. They then patrolled the areas near E. Sixth Street, E. Fourth Street and Grand Avenue. Lyons said the search was called off around 10 p.m.
Lyons said it is likely the bear migrated from southern Missouri, where bears are more prevalent. Bears have traveled to that part of the state from Arkansas, Lyons said, because there is an abundance in Missouri's southern neighbor.
The young male black bear, he said, was likely searching for a female to mate with.
Residents should not worry about a nearby mother, Lyons said. The bear was large enough to be on its own and was probably pushed out by the mother, like when 18-year-olds leave home. Young bears typically leave their mothers after about two years, Lyons said, and the mother prepares to have another litter.
As far as where the bear is now, Lyons said he is unsure.
"I don't imagine it's in town but I'm hoping it isn't," Lyons said.
If anyone happens to see the bear, however, Lyons said not to approach it or have any contact. He also encouraged people not to feed the bear.
The animal, he added, is probably more scared of humans than humans are of him.
"It won't attack anybody. It will leave them alone," he said. "It doesn't want to deal with humans."