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Bear finds new home after being tranquilized

FARGO -- A black bear's rare urban excursion into southern Fargo ended safely Monday when the animal was released into a more suitable habitat in northeastern North Dakota.

FARGO -- A black bear's rare urban excursion into southern Fargo ended safely Monday when the animal was released into a more suitable habitat in northeastern North Dakota.

The bear was released about 11:30 a.m. into a state wildlife management area in the heavily wooded Pembina Gorge area in northeastern North Dakota, said state Game and Fish Department biologist Doug Leier.

"And it was very healthy upon release," he said.

Officials said that while bears occasionally are spotted in Cass and Clay counties, it's rare for one to wander into Fargo city limits.

"I've been here for 33 years, and this is probably the second one," said John Reichert of Valley Veterinary Hospital, who helped tranquilize the bear and load it into an animal trailer.

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Police dispatchers got a call at 5:23 a.m. about a bear in the Freightliner Trucks parking lot at 3440 36th St. S.

The bear crossed 32nd Avenue South into an open grassy area between Interstate 29 and a group of apartment buildings.

Officers Collin Gnoinsky and Grant Kendall used their patrol cars to corral the bear into an area between the I-29 fence and a drainage ditch west of 36th Street.

Game warden Jason Scott fired two tranquilizer darts, missing with the first shot and landing the second shortly after 7 a.m.

­The bear succumbed to the anesthetic drug Telazol in six or seven minutes, Reichert said.

The bear is about 2 years old and weighs 130 to 150 pounds, Reichert said, adding that it will eventually grow to about twice that size.

"Just a young fellow, but very confused this morning," he said.

The bear is believed to be the same one spotted Sunday between Horace, N.D., and Hickson, N.D., and earlier in Wilkin County, Minn., officials said.

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Leier said there are enough bear sightings in Cass and Clay counties that he wasn't completely surprised when he heard a bear was in Fargo.

Still, he said it's rare to find one within city limits. The bear may not have realized it was in an urban setting until sunrise, he said.

"I think it was more of just lost than anything else," he said.

Leier praised law enforcement officers for controlling traffic and corralling the bear without agitating it. He also commended the public for not trying to get a closer look at the wild animal.

"There wasn't an onslaught of people walking to get into the situation," he said.

That was the case during a controversial incident in April 2003 when Fargo police shot and killed a moose cow and calf near South High School, saying the pair posed a threat to public safety. A large crowd of onlookers, including Fargo South students on lunch break, began to follow the moose through residential neighborhoods, according to Forum archives.

Kendall said that under the circumstances the location of Monday's incident was a good site for a bear encounter within city limits.

The Pembina Gorge and Turtle Mountains offer North Dakota's most suitable habitats for bears, though bears also have been known to roam the Red River and Sheyenne River valleys, Leier said.

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The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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