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Bear Shooting in Newton Raises Questions, Concerns

Newton Police, State Police and Environmental Police spent Sunday morning dealing with a black bear on Washington Street near the Pike.

The killing of a young black bear who wandered up a tree in Newton Sunday ignited a firestorm of comments and some misinformation.

The bear that found its way to the top of a tree Sunday morning near Washington Street and the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton was killed by environmental police after they determined it to be a public safety hazard.

Boston.com reported that Massachusetts Environmental Police said they were
"unsuccessful in their efforts to 'immobilize' the bear with tranquilizers," because of the thick foliage at the top of the tree where the bear had climbed and the limited range of the tranquilizer guns.

Lt. Bruce Apotheker, public information officer for the Newton PD, said the department received a call about the bear early Sunday morning and quickly contacted the Environmental Police in Natick for assistance while responding to the scene along with the Newton Fire Department.

Beyond responding, however, the Newton Police left the situation in the hands of the environmental police.

"Our involvement is always to assist the agency in whatever way we can," Apotheker said. "In this particular instance, this was their deal. Newton Police had no part in the actions that were taken on this day. That was left to the experts with the environmental police."

Lt. Col. Chris Baker of the Massachusetts Environmental Police told WBUR that the drugs in tranquilizer darts are incredibly dangerous and officers must be sure they will hit their target before using such darts. In this case, Baker said, no darts were fired because of the foliage and lack of clear shot.

He added that euthanizing an animal is a last resort, but it was one the senior officer had to make in this situation.

The black bear, which was a 1-year-old male according to the Globe, fell onto the train tracks below.

Baker told WBUR that the Mass. Environmental Police try to salvage the meat in a situation such as this by giving it to a local sportsmen's club to process and donate and share with area charities.

Did you see the commotion Sunday or witness the situation unfold? Do you feel as though wildlife and Newton residents are interacting with more frequency nowadays? What do you

pogeygirl June 03, 2013 at 11:34 AM
An 80 lb. bear cub in not a "threat to public safety." Most states that have suburban bear populations employ nets and/or padding to catch the animal if they have to be tranquilized when high in a tree. Darting a bear and allowing it to tumble out of the tree and hit the ground is a mean thing to do and just plain cruel. The Cape bear that was tranquilized out of the tree in Brookline and fell 80 feet to the ground died, but state wildlife officials won't tell you that. You know when they're not telling the truth when they won't allow news reporters to accompany them on the "release" of the animal back into the wild. The Newton bear should have been allowed to leave on his own. Keep people away and when night falls the bear will leeave and head back to the woods. The environmental police also shouldn't be the ones tasked with tranquilizing large mammals. Wildlife biologists should be doiing that. Not all, but most "police" have "itchy trigger fingers." The MA environmental police are also a very troubled agency. They are understaffed and poorly managed. Most would rather be state police and many are bitter that they are not.
jordan lewis ring June 03, 2013 at 12:40 PM
THE RIGHT CALL BY NEWTON PD…/ STATE ENV PD NEWTON POLICE USED---COMMON SENSE! the responders first duty is to protect civilians in the venue…not wild animals! this city is a haven for those mindsets somewhere between Jupiter and Saturn.. ……the reality is the situation posed a clear and present danger; lethal force was not the first response……but the last! the first attack, death, mulling of a child, a senior, the unprotected, by wild bears, coyotes will be the clarion call to reality…this is not the wild wilderness but a city of children, seniors and the like notwithstanding those that think that newton is an annex to the franklin park zoo…….! thank you newton pd…the chief…and those that make newton a distant venue than the daily shootings in the streets of rox/dor/matt….a nearby nightmare of murders gone viral…. everyone has the right to disagree, yet newton pd responded both professionally and with common sense! we all own to the department a…… ‘well done’… .jordan lewis ring
Adam Maleson June 03, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Jeeze Louise, Jordan, at least have the initiative to update your comments and not just copy and paste the same hunter-mentailty, rah-rah Newton Police, anti-innercity rant you posted when this story first broke 24 hours ago. "Newton Police responded professionally and with common sense!" - no, Newton Police just called the official State wildlife "experts", who operate from a total hunter mentality, and let them complete the "Hit", washing their hands of any responsibility for the cold-blooded murder that had just been committed. "Lethal force was not the first response ... but the last!" - according to this article (did you even bother reading THIS updated version?) no darts were fired because of the foliage. On an early sunday morning, one weapon they didn't consider using was Patience. They could have waited until they had a clear shot for the tranquilizer dart. That might have required a couple hours of waiting perhaps. But they preferred to make the call to just shoot it down instead. Without ever having attempted to fire the dart. Don't give us that "last resort" whitewash. That's like the police mumbling "hey you over there, stop" and then opening fire and claiming shooting the "suspect" was a last resort.
Kevin B June 03, 2013 at 01:28 PM
"itchy trigger fingers" proves what an idiot you are
Kevin B June 03, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Just get a ticket Adam or fail the civil service exam?
Adam Maleson June 03, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Five comments criticizing the killing of this bear is a "firestorm"? Really, 5 comments = firestorm? I got news for you all. The State Wildlife agencies, whose names all sound so environmentally concerned and compassionate, are actually simply the State Fishing and Gaming agencies which have been renamed to gain the public's trust. The same way rapeseed oil has been renamed canola oil because otherwise nobody would buy it. These "environmental police" operate from a total hunter mentality, The concluding comments in this article about donating the bear's meat to sportsmen's clubs should make this rather obvious as well. Calling these Official State Hunters "environmental police" also shows the mentality involved. Now the environment is not something to be treated with consideration and respect, it's just another opportunity for bossy macho men with itchy trigger fingers to treat wildlife as criminals just for being wildlife. Next they'll be labelling bears and other animals as Environmental Terrorists. And don't think that I am kidding, I am serious. You just watch and see how they start changing the terminology. This shooting of a frightened young bear in Newton was carried out with the same mentality as the hunting down of the Tsarnaev brothers 6 weeks ago. Look at how the rhetoric defending this shooting already resembles the "Boston Strong" rhetoric.
Kevin B June 03, 2013 at 01:38 PM
The Environmental Police do more to help animals and their habitat than any group around. You are sadly misinformed and an obvious knower of all.
Adam Maleson June 03, 2013 at 01:56 PM
"He added that euthanizing an animal is a last resort, but it was one the senior officer had to make in this situation." Euthanizing is a word that applies when an animal or person is ill and in incurable pain and they are allowed to die as an act of mercy. This bear was not euthanized, it was shot, it was killed, it was murdered, it was gunned down, it was rubbed out, it was snuffed, it was, like a blog comment containing naughty No-no words "deleted". But it was not euthanized. There was no mercy involved in this act. The word euthanized in this instance is an example of another similar sounding word: euphemism. It's a polite euphemism for killing. Of course, George Orwell was right (so terribly terribly right about the futuristic society we live in 65 years later), that you can control people's minds by controlling the language. It's not a nuclear weapon of mass murder, it's a Peacemaker! It's not gunning down a defenseless frightened animal, it's a Euthanization! And in Orwell's 1984, they had Thought Police. In 2013 we have Environmental Police. If there's a need for "environmental police", that would be to arrest people who dump toxic chemicals and start fires, but not to shoot animals for the "crime" of being animals.
Adam Maleson June 03, 2013 at 02:06 PM
They sure did everything they could to "help" Boo-boo Bear yesterday. I'm sure Yogi is thanking Mr. Ranger for his kindness in helping Boo-boo down out of the tree over the train tracks.
Kevin B June 03, 2013 at 02:11 PM
What did you do to help? Click a keyboard?
Brooklyn Lowery (Editor) June 03, 2013 at 02:32 PM
A comment has been deleted for violating our terms of service.
Leslie Burg June 03, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Other communities have dealt with this and haven't resorted to killing the wildlife--in this case, a bear cub. Australian suburbs handle these situations mostly by teaching people how to co-exist with the wildlife they've displaced, darting and returning the animal to its habitat, and only killing when absolutely necessary. The Newton bear cub was not handled properly at all. The fact is most of us are abysmally ignorant about wildlife and have little appreciation for it unless it's in a zoo! As long as we continue to take over wildlife habitats, displaced animals will be forced to try to live with us. While there may be situations in which an animal has to be killed because of public safety concerns, that was not the case with the bear cub. We need to learn about these animals and how to live with them, not summarily destroy them because we are afraid.
Newton Girl June 03, 2013 at 03:54 PM
What a horrible thing to do to that poor bear. Obviously who ever ordered this is unfit for the job.
Donna L June 03, 2013 at 04:04 PM
I agree with the residents saying we need to learn to appreciate and live with wildlife, since we humans are the ones displacing them, by encroaching on their habitats. I believe another solution was possible but people in charge didn't figure it out, for whatever reason, maybe financial. Waiting until nightfall is the most obvious solution, albeit expensive since the bear would need to be watched, until it descended from the tree, to either go back into the woods on it's own or be tranquilized at that point, with a better shot possible. I feel sad for the bear. He wasn't doing anything wrong and was killed for no reason, IMO. I understand many people are afraid of wild animals, even a small bear, but that's no reason to kill them without first trying EVERYTHING possible to relocate them.
Kevin B June 03, 2013 at 04:16 PM
I cant bear to hear anymore :)
deborah June 03, 2013 at 04:40 PM
This bear was just being a bear and paid the price. They should of waited for the bear to come down and proceed to take the proper steps. I guess patience wasnt an option. There was no no need to kill him he wasnt doing anything wrong. Many people live amongst wild animals we need to coexist not kill.
Mike S. June 03, 2013 at 05:27 PM
So how would one go about putting pressure on authorities to be more compassionate next time? I'm getting sick and tired of our imputed public fear of various improbable threats being translated by our proxies into shootings and bombings of beings and places we have little understanding of. I guess in this case it's better than having some random citizen with a rifle go down Washington St. to shoot the bear himself, but not much.
Mike S. June 03, 2013 at 05:39 PM
http://www.mass.gov/eea/grants-and-tech-assistance/enforcement/environmental-police/contact-us-generic.html Write a letter to the "environmental crimes bureau?" Hmmm, I guess if they considered this a crime they wouldn't have done it. Would it make sense to write the Massachusetts Environmental Police Headquarters address itself?
Me June 03, 2013 at 07:07 PM
I agree about the Newton Corner Fisher Cat! Funny someone else mentioned it. My poor dog was attacked by it and has the scars to prove it. I feel sorry for the bear though.
Janet Sterman June 03, 2013 at 07:43 PM
When do we kill wild animals and when do we tranquilize them? It's okay to kill a bear but not a coyote or a fisher cat? How about jack rabbits and squirrels? My dog kills them should she be shot? ;-) Please join me in counting the days until one of Newton's Aldermen dockets an item on managing wildlife in our city.
Mark Golden June 03, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Like most people who are leaving comments, I was not there. But I do know that a bear, high up in a tree, possess NO threat to humans. I applaud the State agency for not taking a tranquilizer shot that they felt would not find its mark. But, could they not have waited a bit to see if the bear would come down. EVERY other bear spotted in a tree has come down. That is why no one has ever seen a skeleton of a bear or for that matter a cat in a tree. If you stop chasing the bear, back off a bit (keep it under a close watch), the bear will eventually come down on its own where an intelligent decision can be made. Yes, maybe it would have to be killed in the end, but it is the duty of the Wildlife people to, after assuring the safety of people, to assure the safety of animals. The next time this happens, and there will be a next time, lets hope more thought goes into it, prior to shooting the animal.
Joe June 03, 2013 at 08:45 PM
We are missing the bear facts.
sylvia June 03, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Unthinkable..irresponsible..absolutlely WRONG. ANIMALS DONT DESERVE TO BE KILLED FOR NOT KNOWING THEY ARE IN THE WRONG PLACE
fhjuyfvbnk,,mnjkk, June 03, 2013 at 09:25 PM
They leave coyotes alone but not a bear.
wm mezzetti June 04, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Seems to me that a bullet is a lot more dangerous than a dart .How come those morons could get a clear shot to kill .Arm the bears
Golfer June 04, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Leslie, next time a bear shows up in Newton you should volunteer to be dangled by a crane coated in peanut butter to lure it back to Yellowstone.
Dan Keefe June 05, 2013 at 09:24 PM
To Leslie Burg, Every word of your response to this travesty makes sense. The loss of habitat is the main reason that you will rarely see a Bluebird in Massachusetts any longer. Wildlife goes where it thinks it can survive and not where it can be killed. Semper Fidelis, Dan Keefe
Dan Keefe June 05, 2013 at 09:31 PM
What do you folks do with a lost child in West Newton, or a lost dog or cat? Dan Keefe
Choo Choo June 13, 2013 at 02:50 AM
Adam ... I liked your arguments but I would advise you next time not to let a few "ornery" folks' attempts to get you to write more than necessary. Just ignore ignorance!!! :-)
Choo Choo June 13, 2013 at 02:57 AM
I believe maybe a few of us can say the same about the 3,000 "trained" professionals who cornered Tsarnaev in Watertown. They had trained K9s, FLIR, and probably a few other "toys." They refused to follow the long-running campaign to "see something, say something." Instead, they put several towns under lockdown. Only after lifting the lockdown did a citizen notice the hole in his boat's tarp. But it was nihilistic entertainment! Where else can you watch the erosion of our civil liberties live and in color in the civic environment!!! I guess the bear provided the same opportunity for us with regards to the wild environment. Oh, mercy me! I forgot the old saying about "the little people pay" when I believe most of us know that animals pay for our disregard of the environment.

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