Dangerous Encounter

Most people are used to seeing deer within the city limits. However, a bear is another story. Tuesday evening’s event in which a 250-300-pound black bear was shot and killed by Parkersburg police has become a controversial topic since that evening.

Probably a majority of people who have commented on this subject are angry the bear was not tranquilized and removed to a location out of the city.

In some cases, this is how the situation would have been handled. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources District 6 Wildlife Biologist Jeff McCrady’s original recommendation was for officers to leave the animal alone; that it would eventually find its way back out of the city.

However, once news of the bear’s appearance became known, the situation turned into a carnival atmosphere on the streets with people, armed with flashlights attempting to get a glimpse of the animal. There were so many people on the streets that Parkersburg police Chief Joe Martin said it reminded him of a Parkersburg Homecoming crowd.

Once officers realized it would be hard – if not impossible – to get people to go home and out of any potential danger, the decision – the right decision – was made to dispatch the animal.

It is true that most black bears are wary of humans, but they can be aggressive and charge. With the situation developing as it was Tuesday, this adult bear – estimated to be 6 feet tall and approximately 300 pounds – would have been extremely nervous. Had it attacked and seriously injured someone, it is likely people would have been angry with officers for not using lethal force.

It is sad that a magnificent animal had to be killed just for being in the wrong place. But under the circumstances, the decision was the only option available.