Tahlequah bear rescued near Northeastern State University released into wild

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - A black bear that was tranquilized after it wandered upon Northeastern State University in Tahlequah is back in the wild. 

Neighbors spotted the 90 pound animal near the campus Wednesday. One woman says she saw witnessed the whole event.

"I looked down and there were about 20 people in the backyard next door," Tahlequah homeowner Margaret Nelson said.

Margaret tells 2News in all her years living in Tahlequah she's never never heard of a bear coming this close to her home.

"It kind of startled me," Nelson said.

It took wildlife experts about two hours to tranquilize the bear which positioned itself atop a tree.

Students and neighbors captured video of the bear falling from the tree onto a net that workers had put under the tree to keep the bear from hitting the ground.

Mobile users can watch the video here (http://bit.ly/bearvid).

Wildlife officials say once the bear was captured and sedated, it was taken to a faculty and cared before it was released in the wild.

"We keep and work them up and make sure they're fine and do all our biological measurements on them and we release them as soon as we can," Wildlife expert Craig Endicott said.

Endicott says during this time of year bear sightings will become normal occurrences because it is during their mating season.

"These occurrences are going to be more common place as time goes on," Endicott said.

Oklahoma Wildlife experts say in the last three years they have captured 20 bears with most of the bears being captured in Adair, Sequoyah and Cherokee Counties.

"These young bears are looking for areas to established their own territories," Endicott said.

The bear in Tahlequah was released in the wild with a tracking collar. Wildlife officials say it'll be used to track their migration patterns.

Endicott says most of the bears they capture, particularity females, will receive a satellite transmitter and tag. They focus more on the females to see their distribution and status in the population and to find their cubs and see the reproduction that population is getting.

He and other wildlife officials are working directly with Oklahoma State University to conduct bear research. They are trying to establish how many bears they have in the northeast and where they move seasonally and daily.

"We weigh the bear, we pull a premolar tooth. It gives us for sure the age of them. And we also take measurements of the bear..We also take some DNA samples, so in the future we'll always know where that bear came from," Endicott said.

Endicott says they are on their third bear trapping season and say they hope the research is going to give them enough information to manage the population.

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