Crews hoping jelly donuts, sardines will lure bear from tree near UNC REX Hospital

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An American black bear made UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh its home Tuesday. The bear sat in a tree all day after likely crawling up overnight.

Late Tuesday night, crews laid out jelly donuts and sardines in hopes the bear would come down from the tree and leave.

The hospital remained open all day Tuesday as UNC Health said there was no threat to the public.

“I was telling someone earlier, at least it’s not a cobra,” said Karen Alexander, a hospital visitor.

She and other patients along with healthcare workers looked into a far-off tree hoping they could catch a glimpse.

“[It’s let us] take our minds off everything we’ve been going through. I like the bear,” said Kevin Evans.

It’s not an animal people expect to see in such a busy, high-traffic area.

“I live in Zebulon, so coyotes are a problem out there, but not bears – not yet,” Evans said.

“I just hope it doesn’t get harmed in the process of getting down,” Alexander said.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said this is the time of year male cubs leave their mothers, so it is not uncommon to see black bears moving around wooded areas.

Brad Howard, chief of the North Carolina Wildlife Management Division, said the bear found its way into the tree on its own so it can find its way back to the woods on its own.

“He’s up there wondering, ‘Oh my, what did I get myself into?’ And so his thinking right now is, ‘How can I get out of here safely?'” Howard said.

Wildlife experts and Raleigh animal services planed on letting the bear come back down the tree on its own. It’s likely to stay overnight as it waits for the busy parking lot to quiet down. There were no plans for a tranquilizer or forced removal. If the bear stays in the tree for several days, Howard said there are other strategies they can consider.

The wildlife resources commission said it’s not an aggressive animal.

“He absolutely is not a threat in my opinion,” said Greg Batts, a wildlife biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “He is frightened. He wants out of town as badly as everybody watching wants him out of town. I can guarantee you that.”  

“Let nature play its course the way we typically see it do in these environments. Suddenly he’ll just be gone and maybe we’ll hear from him again, maybe we don’t,” Howard said.

Brothers, Wally and Kelly Becker wanted to see the bear for themselves Tuesday.

“It just brings old memories back,” said Kelly. 

“We are from the Catskills in New York. We are used to black bears so this is fascinating,” added Wally.

It’s not the first black bear spotted in the area. Bears were also spotted in neighborhoods around North Hills and northwest Raleigh in June.

“Was it the same bear? Very well could have been. It’s just as likely that it’s a totally different one,” Howard said.

For now, Howard said the bear doesn’t pose any danger to the public. He said it’s not an aggressive animal.

“The biggest threat we have is it comes down the tree and runs out in the road. We certainly don’t want him to get hurt. We don’t want to cause a vehicle accident,” he said.

That’s why when it comes down, they’ll gently guide it into the woods and let it be on its way.

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