Friday morning a bear was stuck in a tree in North St. Paul. What to do? You could lure him down with a pic-a-nic basket, but that only works with the Ursinus Yogi species, and if the bear's not wearing a tie, forget it.

While I waited for updates I thought: a bear! That's pushing the urban-fauna parameters. We're used to small stuff -- squirrels, the perpetual extras in nature's ongoing play; bunnies; loose cats that look at you as though they think they're defeating you with Terrifying Cat Stare. It's not working! He is immune, somehow! I must flee! In Arizona they have to deal with coyotes, which sometimes take small dogs for dinner. In a previous life they drove around in gray, unmarked vans.

When you see a raccoon in the city, you're always startled. The back-door light snaps on, you see a creature the size of a sailor's duffle bag. You freeze. He freezes. It's embarrassing for you both, like walking into a co-worker when you open a bathroom stall door. The raccoon's expression seems to say, Look, I'm fat, OK? Otherwise, I'd run. Let's just pretend this didn't happen. Where do they live? The sewers? I've seen raccoons you couldn't poke down a manhole without a pound of Crisco.

We had a bunny nest in the backyard last summer and were privileged to see Nature's Ways up close. Apparently Mama Bunny leaves for most of the day. You're tempted to call Bunny Protective Services when she finally shows up, smelling of beer and cigarettes and muttering pulltabs are fixed, they gotta be, but that's the way Nature likes it, I guess.

Anyway, how do you get a bear down from a tree? In this case, the poor creature was hit with a beanbag, which made it descend -- then it was shot as it was trying to run away. Kudos for keeping everyone safe, but next time, maybe a tranquilizing dart. And a trampoline. One million YouTube views, guaranteed.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 More daily at www.startribune.com/buzz