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Update, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday: FWP Warden Brian Lloyd said in a voicemail Sunday that the bear, a 70-75 pound female, had been tranquilized and captured Saturday evening.

After being marked with an ear tag, she was released south of Ennis, Lloyd said.

FWP had no record that she had "been in trouble before," he said. "Hopefully she'll stay in the woods where she belongs."

A juvenile black bear added some excitement to a damp afternoon in central Bozeman on Saturday, scampering across several blocks and raiding multiple bird feeders, attracting attention from an array of bystanders and law enforcement officers. As of deadline, it remained at large.

The bear was initially reported in the family/graduate housing section the Montana State University campus but then spent several hours moving through neighborhoods between College and Main streets.

K.C. McLaughlin, who lives off Dickerson near its intersection with 14th Avenue, said she was washing dishes when the bear ran by across the street from her house. She was so startled, she said, she ran outside to take a look and left her water running.

“He was just running away,” she said.

“How could a bear walk all the way over here from the mountains?” asked her daughter, Kacia, 5, adding that she was concerned the animal could have hurt the family’s dogs.

A few blocks over, in an alley between 12th and 11th avenues, a homeowner stuck his head out a screen door to watch as the bear clambered by, climbing a fence so it could head east across 11th.

“Sir, why don’t you stay in your house?” a police officer suggested. “There’s a bear in your backyard.”

Melissa Lewis, who was spending her afternoon moving out of another house on 11th and watched the bear cross the road, said it was the first time she’d seen a bear in town.

“It was so cute,” she said. “The poor thing’s more scared than anything.”

A few minutes later, the bear bedded down for about a half hour, munching on birdseed from a feeder it knocked over between a pair of houses across Story Street from Cooper Park.

As Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Brian Lloyd arrived, it decided it was time to move on, running through several more yards before finding another bird feeder to raid on a deck behind a home off Dickerson Street between Sixth and Fifth avenues.

There, Lloyd, watched by about a dozen damp bystanders, made an initially unsuccessful attempt to lure the non-aggressive animal into a live trap with bologna.

Reached by phone, shortly before deadline, Lloyd said he hadn’t apprehended the bear, which he said looked like a yearling.

“He wandered off while I was loading up a dart,” Lloyd said. “When everyone’s standing around like that, there’s not much I can do.”

It’s not uncommon for bears to come into Bozeman, he added.

“I chase these things around town a couple times every season,” Lloyd said, “He’s probably up a tree somewhere taking a nap.”

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Eric Dietrich can be reached at 406-582-2628 or He is on Twitter at @eidietrich.


Eric Dietrich covers city government and health for the Chronicle.

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