A bear killed early Saturday in the east metro may have been the same one that was shot and wounded earlier in the south metro, officials said.
Residents of a West St. Paul neighborhood awoke early Saturday to commotion when the animal wandered into the area and police tried to contain it before ultimately deciding to shoot it, citing public safety.
Police said they shot the bear after it became agitated as people began coming outside to see what was going on.
It was described as 120 to 150 pounds and it had an injured hind leg, so police believe it may have been the same bear seen recently in Savage, Eagan and other south-metro communities.
In late May, Savage police shot and wounded a young male bear that had been seen in the area several times over the Memorial Day weekend, including May 23 in the packed Town and Country Campground. After that sighting, police decided to shoot the bear because it had gone so close to campers.
On Saturday morning, West St. Paul officers tried to corner the bear with the hopes of using a tranquilizer gun to subdue it, but they never got the chance, police said. Before an additional officer could arrive with a tranquilizer gun, the animal fled to the north side of the community, near Bernard and Charlton Streets.
“The officers had a grave concern the bear might flee to an even more populated area before the animal control officer could have responded,” West St. Paul Police Chief Manila Shaver said in a news release. “It is unfortunate that such actions are necessary to protect [the] public.”
While trying to contain the bear, officers contacted the state Department of Natural Resources, which told them it doesn’t respond to such incidents and that local agencies should respond accordingly to protect the public.
In May, West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller posted a photo on Twitter of a billboard touting that West St. Paul had been “bear free” since 1889. Zanmiller tweeted: “WSP — no rogue bears here.”