Bear wanders onto Colo. campus, moved to mountains

Associated Press Modified: April 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm •  Published: April 28, 2012
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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A 200-pound black bear that wandered onto the University of Colorado campus and caused a stir before falling 15-feet from a tree has returned to the wild, officials said Friday.

State wildlife official Jennifer Churchill said that the 200-poung male bear was tagged and taken to a remote Rocky Mountain area of ponderosa pines, with plenty of oak brush and chokeberry — food fit for a bear — west of Boulder.

The bear has become a celebrity since it wandered around a university residence hall in Boulder and climbed a tree Thursday. Wildlife officers eventually tranquilized it, and the bear dropped from its perch onto pads placed on the ground.

A photographer with the CU Independent online student newspaper captured a shot of the bear, its arms and legs akimbo, as it fell.

The bear landed on its back before a crowd of gawking students. Some stroked its paws after it was caged.

"It was really a perfect landing," campus police spokesman Ryan Huff told the Daily Camera (http://bit.ly/JIFuf7).

Rhonda Chestnutt was putting coins into a parking meter near the Bear Creek student apartments on Thursday when she felt shaggy fur brush against her legs.

Chestnutt, who works for a leadership program at the university, thought it was a large dog — until the bear looked back over its shoulder.

"It was like, 'Excuse me, pardon me, coming through,'" Chestnutt told the Camera. "It was running full speed."

Churchill said bears emerge from winter hibernation in March and April and are scavenging for food.