It wasn’t a normal night shift for Parkersburg police.   Officers were called to a densely populated section of town after a black bear was spotted roaming the neighborhood.

“We’re not used to dealing with this sort of thing,” said Chief Joe Martin. “In fact, I think it may be the first time we’ve had one sighted in the city limits.”

Bear numbers across the state have risen sharply in the last decade and the DNR says there are now confirmed bear sightings in all 55 West Virginia counties.

DNR officials arrived on the scene as the bear led police and neighborhood residents on what seemed to be an endless chase between homes and up and down streets lined with people.  The commotion drew scores of people out of their homes, flashlight in hand.

“I was taken aback when I arrived on scene about ten-minutes before midnight at how many people were out and about, even kids.  It seemed like it was 6pm instead of midnight,” Martin said. “That weighed heavily on me because a 300 pound animal can go wherever it wants to.”

Martin said the initial plan was to tranquilize the animal and move it out of the city to a remote part of the state.  But Martin said as more and more people started to follow the animal, it became clear the plan wasn’t going to work.  

Officers eventually chased the bear into an open area in a park near downtown where it was put down with three gunshots. 

“It was a fairly good sized animal, about six-feet tall and 300 pounds,”  Martin said.

DNR officials say this is the time of year bear sightings in residential areas are most common.  Bears are emerging from hibernation and hungry, but the normal natural foods haven’t set on in the wild yet.   They’ll go in search of bird feeders, pet food, and garbage.  Officials say once they’ve had a taste of those, they usually won’t leave and will become more aggressive if the source isn’t removed.  

Officials suggest keeping trash and pet food put up at night and taking down bird feeders for several weeks to avoid any problems. 

“People feed them and are well intentioned,” said DNR Biologist Chris Ryan. “But what they don’t realize is in the long run they are only hurting the bear.”

Typically when a bear has become a nuisance it’s become harder in recent years for state wildlife officials to relocate them to an area where they’ll stay out of trouble.  The only other solution is to destroy the animal. 

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  • Bob

    Didn't know about this until today it is sad they could of put it to sleep complete idiots parkersburg police are.

  • johnny

    To protect and serve. i think the officers responded very efficiently and only had the best interest of the neighborhood in mind.

  • Madman Szalinski

    I'm from here. I was asleep when it happened, but the bear basically went down my street.

    I know people here. I'm surprised someone didn't actually try to come outside with a gun and shoot the thing themselves. People in Parkersburg are STUPID when it comes to anything involving sirens and emergency lights. So stupid, they actually went outside and tried to get closer to the bear, freaking it out moreso than before. Remember, that bear most likely never saw a human until then.

    I don't approve of killing the bear either, but I understand. Just don't blame the wrong idiots.

    • Irishman45

      I agree! Those idiotic people with their deliciously tender meat children all trying to get the bear! Talk about cognitively deficient! As soon as the bear...6 foot, 300 pounds trounced on their 30 pound 3 year old and gobbled him or her up there'd be cries that the police didn't do enough. Come on folks, use some common sense!!!!!!!

  • lee arthur

    Why kill it ? These cowboy cops aren't hero's in my book.


    Sorry. (LED)


    Yeah, it's always those out of state bears. Ours would behave if they weren't lead astray. Then the Man shoots it just to keep the bear down. Can't we all just get along?

  • Wowbagger

    Several years ago I had been working out in Pocahontas County in bear country. One weekend I needed a special tool and ended up in the old country hardware store in Claysville, PA not too far from where I grew up. I found the tool and ended up talking to the owner about bears as I checked out. He immediately said to my surprise that there are now bears in Washington County around Claysville and the Northern Panhandle and that they are well fed, big, and healthy like this one. I spent a lot of time in the woods in the area in the 60s and 70s and bears just didn't exist. Now it appears they are everywhere and the potential for bear human confrontation are increasing significantly.

  • Levelheaded

    Get used to the bears. You'll be seeing alot more of this and worse. The DNR doesn't want anyone to hunt them.

    • TRIXIE

      The DNR proposed an early bear season for September 21-25 in the traditional mountain counties. Commissioners however, listened to several members of the bear hunting community who sought a Saturday opening date and a six-day season in the those counties.

      “If we start on a Monday, there’s a limited amount of time for guys who have vacation built up,” said Bear Hunters Association President Eric Beck. “If we start on a weekend, more people get the opportunity to go out and hunt.”

      The early season will now be September 21-27 and will allow hunters to chase with dogs in the following counties: Barbour (E. of Rt. 92), Braxton (E. of I-79), Clay (S. of Elk River), Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Mineral (W. of New Creek), Monroe (E. of Rt. 219), Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur (E. of Rt. 20), Webster.

      As an added bonus, since Clay County is open to Sunday hunting, hunters would have a 7th day in the early bear season–provided they are hunting on private property. Sunday hunting is allowed in 14 counties on private land.

      Beck said the longer early season with dogs will be the best way to tackle the problem bears damaging crops in the mountain counties.

      The Commission approved the normal early five day bear hunting season for southern West Virginia. Hunters will be able to hunt bear with or without dogs in Kanawha, Boone, Fayette, Raleigh, Logan, Wyoming, Mingo, and McDowell Counties from October 7-11. The later dates are split from the mountain counties to allow hunters who normally hunt in the mountains to come to the southern coalfields to chase bear.

    • thornton

      That was as funny as it was inaccurate.

  • PCM

    It's very difficult to tranquilize a free ranging bear. Only possibility is if it would have been in a tree that allowed a perfect shot with a dart. Also, "the darter" must be 100 % sure they can recover the dart. If the dart is lost, the residual drug could be extremely harmful to a child/adult. Considering it was in a park, options were very limited.

  • thornton

    I'm guessing that they are guessing at the weight....and over-guessed at that.
    Likely just a young bear pushed out due to competition and out-growing mama's apron...most of the Ohio bears come from Pennsylvania from the same shove.

    I would bet other options were available but had someone been hurt from the idiots following the action then a hubbub would have been raised.
    Who killed this bear?...the folks following the bear killed that bear!

    The population can stand the loss...move on to something more important and next time hope that the looky-lous in the neighborhood use more sense.

  • Dave

    Since it was in a urban area with tightly packed houses and obviously wasn't afraid of anyone. 6-foot, 300-lbs, very dangerous animal. It just happened to be "pushed" into the open park area....Remember, YOU are a viable part of an animals food chain if it is that big! They did the right thing!

  • Tumbleweed Jones

    Why couldn't the original plan of "tranquilizing" the bear be pursued?...

    What is the WV DNR doing to educate both citizens and public servants in all 55 counties regarding bear-proofing their property and bear-tranquilizing and relocation? ....

    Regarding the closing paragraph - There is always a third-option....don't get caught up in false-duality, it's illogical.

  • David

    This is police brutality. If that had been a polar bear they would have escorted it back to the wilderness.

    • Jay

      I nearly laughed soup out of my nose while reading this comment over lunch. Witty and well played!

    • Mike T

      I see what you did there.

  • Ann

    It still seems that once the officers got the bear to the open park they could have found a way to tranquilize it instead of kiiling it. Very sad.

  • Lisa

    How sad...