On Sunday, June 25, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Pawtucket Animal Control teamed up to tranquilize and remove a young male black bear that had wandered into a suburb of Providence. The bear scored a steak dinner before officials transported it to the forested northwest corner of the state.
Environmental police Sgt. Harold Guise told the Pawtucket Journal that Pawtucket police contacted the DEM at around 5 p.m. after the bear crashed a cookout with “at least some kids” in attendance, stole a steak, and then climbed a tree to take a nap. When Guise arrived on the scene, the bear was sleeping on a branch about 15 feet up.
Guise’s team called Scott Bergemann, an environmental police officer trained in shooting animals with tranquilizer darts. Bergemann was eating out with his wife but interrupted their meal to perform the unusual procedure. He shot the bear, which, sedated, then fell to the ground—bottom-first. The last time a bear was tranquilized in the state was in 2016. See the scene for yourself below.
#Watch: A neighbor shared this video of a black bear in a Pawtucket backyard on Sunday.
“He’s got so much padding,” Lucot told WPRI 12 News, “but the other thing to remember is that because he was slightly sedated…so all his muscles were relaxed when he hit the ground. That’s the ideal situation.”
DEM officials have noted an uptick in black bear sightings this year after only eight were reported statewide in 2022. While Rhode Island has not confirmed resident populations of black bears, populations are on the rise in neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts. Officials expect that Rhode Island sightings will continue to rise as young bears seek new territory. The DEM said that black bears were common in Rhode Island in the 1800s before habitat loss drove them away.
Chris Bertrand, who lives in the Pawtucket neighborhood, captured the video of the bear falling out of the tree and posted it on Facebook. After the fall, the bear was transported to the Buck Hill Management Area in Burrillville, 25 miles away.