RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — A bear in Russellville is safely returned to the wild after watching a neighborhood and officials from a tree last week. The bear caught neighbors unaware at first, but they recorded the whole interaction on camera Thursday.
Noah Stephens said he was cutting a neighbor’s grass when an officer casually asked him if he’d seen a bear on the street. He thought that it was at first but dropped everything he was doing when he heard the bear was found at the corner of East J Street and Boston Avenue.
Noah Stephens is used to seeing dogs and cats in his neighborhood, but he could barely believe this. He pulled out his phone and recorded when firemen, police, and Arkansas Game and Fish formed a rescue plan for the trouble bruin.
“The fire department and police officers were out with all their high-powered flashlights spotlighting it for us so we could get good pictures and video,” Noah recalled.
He described the bear as “Sitting on that limb like a human.”
Onlookers with him watched for about two hours as an Arkansas Game and Fish bear specialist traveled from Fort Smith and prepared a tranquilizer.
“They’re loading that dart right now,” Noah can be heard saying in the video.
When the bear was hit by a dart in the backside, it still took almost 10 minutes for it to lower itself from branch to branch and slide off.
“Oh honey” were the words out of Kimmy Stephen’s mouth just as the bear’s claws released and it tumbled onto a tarp held off the ground by authorities.
“He’s still moving,” she exclaimed in the seconds following. An approximately 30-foot fall was easy for the black bear to shrug off.
“He moseyed right along and laid down in the grass there,” Noah stated.
The recording is something hundreds of Arkansas have sunk their claws into. For the Russellville neighborhood, it is a memory of a close encounter that gives them pause.
“It just reminds you that. Arkansas is a natural state. It’s still wild even here in the middle of Russellville,” Noah said.
Thankfully, Arkansas Game and Fish reported that the bear was uninjured and relocated to a new home in the National Forest north of town where it won’t have to walk of any more falls.
“We used to be known as the bear state. There are bears everywhere. At one point in time, there were more bears in Arkansas than there were people, but a lot of Arkansans have never seen a bear before,” Noah admitted.
Arkansas Game and Fish said it’s typical this time of year for younger male bears to leave their mother and wander into places like this. To learn what you can do to deter these frightened bears from coming near you, visit AGFC.com.