UNIONTOWN, Ohio -- A black bear that may have made its way into Uniontown from Alliance on Thursday was shot and killed by police.
Jamey Emmert with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the bear announced its arrival at about 2 a.m. when it awakened some residents banging around on their back porch trying to get to their bird feeder.
Throughout the day, police continued to get numerous calls from residents as it continued to lazily wander through backyards.
"It wasn't running or anything like that. It was just strolling along basically," said Mike Weil, who spotted it in his backyard.
"It was a pretty good-sized bear, very dark black hair; was not threatening in nature or anything like that," said Weil.
Uniontown police were advising callers to stay back and watch from a distance.
An officer eventually started following the bear on foot.
"People were coming out after they were told by the officer to go back into their house. Once the bear passed their house, they were coming back out to see if they could spot the bear again," said Police Chief Harold Britt.
ODNR said black bears are not aggressive by nature, and they constantly tell people not to worry.
But they also said because the bears are a wild animal, things could change in an instant.
"Any wild animal might act aggressively to protect itself," said Emmert.
Britt said the concern ultimately became more about people confronting the bear rather than the bear approaching people.
"People might come out to try and confront the bear or shoo it off their property or try to go out and get their animals off the yard," said Britt.
The hope was that the bear would leave.
"The officer had followed the bear for about 20 minutes through the neighborhood, and then the bear got to Cleveland Avenue. The bear wouldn't cross over, so the bear turned around and was trying to go back into the neighborhood. So the officer, at that point for public safety reasons, shot the bear," said Britt.
ODNR said the outcome was not what it would have wanted, but they will not criticize a judgement call by police to keep people safe.
"It's the police officer's responsibility to act to protect the public," said Emmert, who adds they were "shocked" when they saw the size of the bear, saying male black bears in Ohio tend to be smaller.
"It's great to see the bear population coming back to Ohio," said Britt. "They are just getting pushed here, but when they come in contact with the public, the public safety has to come first."
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