BETHESDA, Md (WUSA9) -- A hundred-pound juvenile black bear was tranquilized and captured at the National Institutes of Health campus after engaging wildlife workers and police in a five hour siege Thursday.
The bear, estimated to be 18 months old was spotted near the crowded Medical Center Metro station at about 10:30 a.m. according to witnesses. The bear climbed an 80-foot white pine tree near the Kiss and Ride parking area after being surrounded by NIH police.
The treed bear was in clear view of hundreds of onlookers who marveled at how the animal wandered into an urbanized area inside the Capital Beltway.
PHOTOS: Black bear at NIH
NIH workers hastily erected a chain link fence to direct the bear away from people when it left the tree.
As the siege entered its fifth hour, wildlife experts from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources fired explosive noisemaker rounds into the tree. The irritated bear climbed down the tree and fled onto the NIH's park-like, 326-acre campus. Police and wildlife workers cornered the animal and fired tranquilizer darts. The bear was captured with no injuries.
Maryland wildlife biologist Paul Perditto said the bear would be taken to a rural area of Montgomery County near the Potomac River, where it will be released in hopes it will follow the green way along the river back to more appropriate habitat.
Suburban and even urban bear sightings in the DC area are becoming more common Perditto said. Young bears are known to wander hundreds of miles in search of new territory. The Potomac River and the region's numerous stream valley parks make it easy for a bear to make a wrong turn into the suburbs, Perditto said.
The bear was first seen on NIH security video near the campus early June 18th.
Perditto said the bear is likely the same animal reported wandering in the Rockville area.
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