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Juneau black bear euthanized after climbing musician's fire escape (+VIDEO)

Ben Anderson
Screenshot from Alaska Robotics YouTube video

A black bear in Southeast Alaska had a wild day out as it found its way into the state's capital city of Juneau, climbing the fire escape and all the way up to the roof of a building where a well-known local musician lives. But there won't be any children's books written about the adventure anytime soon, as the whimsical journey had a sad ending, first with the bear being tranquilized to move it from the rooftop, then euthanized for repeatedly entering the city.

According to Lt. David Campbell with the Juneau Police Department, the bear was reported in the downtown area at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, and officers responded. Campbell said that the bear was not showing signs of aggression, but rather just wandering the area.

At about 11:45 a.m., Alaska musician Marian Call, who lives in Juneau, sent out the following tweet from her Twitter account:

After that, the bear made its way onto the rooftop of her building, and several hours of Twitter narration followed, including "The bear peed. HE PEED ON MY ROOF that roof really tied the room together," and "Now the bear is dancing Gangnam Style." Morning radio DJs in Brisbane, Australia, were also reading Call's tweets on the air, she said.

Eventually, officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game arrived and tranquilized the bear, which fell asleep while still on the roof. Call reported the bear "teetered and drooled" before falling asleep.

Juneau artist Patrick Race, of Alaska Robotics, took a video of the whole incident and posted it to YouTube later Wednesday.

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Ryan Scott, an Area Management Biologist with Fish and Game said that the Juneau police did an excellent job keeping the bear confined to one spot before biologists were able to arrive.

"We were able to immobilize the bear with a dart fairly quickly, then moved him to another section of the roof before lowering him down."

Scott said that they just used old-fashioned manpower to return the bear, which he said was an adult male estimated at between 250 and 300 pounds, to terra firma.

"There were three of us on one part of the roof and three on the other, and needed to lower it down about eight or nine feet," he said.

"Several brawny men in Carhartts & a couple cops. They hoisted him with vigor," Call said in a tweet explaining the rescue to a fan.

Unfortunately, Call reported that the bear would likely have to be euthanized, and Scott confirmed that the bear was put down later Wednesday. 

"It was already euthanized, as it turns out, this particular bear had an ear tag, so it was a bear we had captured before," Scott said. It had previously been captured in July of this year, he said.

Scott said he suspected this was the same bear that was reported on a different rooftop last week, and potentially the same bruin that found its way into a yogurt shop on Friday. 

"This is probably our highest-profile bear so far this year," he said.

This time of year can be a risky one for human-bear encounters in the Southeast Alaska community, as bears are searching far and wide for food, stocking up and storing energy reserves for their long winter hibernations. Juneau is no stranger to bear encounters, though; the area around the city boasts a hearty bear population, and another bear was caught on video doing some damage to a mudroom back in July.

To read Call's full account, plus photos, of the bear's parkour (mis)adventure, check out her Twitter feed.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com