Black Bear Captured in Little Rock
A black bear that had been reported in the Heights neighborhood of Little Rock on Wednesday was captured today without incident. A sighting earlier today had the bear near the Cantrell Road and I-430 interchange when the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission was called to help capture the bear.
Biologists from the AGFC, animal control officers from Little Rock and Pulaski County; and the Little Rock Police Department all converged on an area just east of I-430 and north of Cantrell Road. After a short search, the bear was spotted and AGFC bear biologist Rick Eastridge shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart. The bear was tagged and data collected before it was released into the Ouachita Mountains this afternoon.
The AGFC was initially contacted on Wednesday that a bear had been spotted in a dumpster at the St. John's Seminary on Tyler Street (north of Cantrell). AGFC biologists set a culvert trap near that location. Other sightings were reported near North Grandview Street and in the vicinity of Foxcroft. The report from the Foxcroft area noted that the bear was eating bird feed.
Eastridge said that it was a little unusual that a bear would be in such a populated area. “Based on the sequence of the sightings, it is evident that the bear was heading west within the corridor created between Cantrell Road and the Arkansas River. We were hoping that he would make it out of town on his own, but at least this way he didn’t get in any trouble,” he said.
The bear weighed approximately 155 pounds and was in good health, Eastridge said. “The bear was probably in search of food. They’re looking for berries, but they haven’t ripened at this time of year,” he said. “We have reports of bears in and around Little Rock every year. This is just the time of year when it happens. It’s also time for females to get rid of their yearlings,” Eastridge added.
Arkansas has about 3,000 bears, mostly in the Ozark and Ouachita mountain areas. Bears were once so plentiful, they were hunted commercially, and Arkansas was known as the Bear State. But nearly all were wiped out by the early 20th Century.
A restocking program in the 1950s and 1960s brought in 254 bears from Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada and the state’s black bears have returned in the nation’s most successful restoration of a large carnivore.