Wandering Bear Lured To Cage With Chicken Nuggets

WEST JEFFERSON, Ohio (AP) - This time, feeding the bear was allowed.

A small black bear, which had been seen in southeast and central Ohio last weekend, was captured early Thursday with a little help from McDonald's.

State wildlife officers used chicken McNuggets, fish sandwiches, hamburgers, cinnamon rolls and honey to lure the bear from a tree in Audrey Manning's yard about a quarter-mile from West Jefferson.

A cage was set up in the yard, and the bear took the bait about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

Manning said finding a bear in her back yard was definitely a surprise.

"I just saw a bear in the tree and called my son-in-law," the 77-year-old woman said. "He thought I was joking. And I said, 'I have a B-E-A-R out in the tree.'"

It was the first bear corralled near Franklin County since the 1850s, wildlife officials said.

The male bear, which measured 58½ inches and weighed less than 100 pounds, was estimated to be about 1½ years old. Ohio is home to only about 50 black bears, the only type of bear in the state.

After tranquilizing the protected animal, officials fixed a broken tooth and placed an ear tag on it.

It then was taken to southeastern Ohio and released.

The bear had been sighted for about a month, said Vicki Ervin, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. It was reported near Athens and later in Pickaway County. A fisherman spotted the bear along Big Darby Creek in Franklin County earlier this week.

West Jefferson resident Theresa McDowell called police Wednesday night, saying she saw the bear under a neighbor's porch.

"Several little kids were playing in the yard when a neighbor woman yelled she saw a big black dog running loose in the yard," McDowell said. "That's when I went out my back door and I saw my 16-year-old son on top of his car. Then I saw it and realized it was a bear."

It's not unusual for younger male bears to wander this time of year, wildlife officials said. At about a year old, bears' family groups will run them off to force them to find their own territory.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)