Black bear

A black bear, or ursus americanus

An out-of-place 2-year-old black bear that was spotted multiple times in Southeast Boise yesterday has been spotted again this morning, but Idaho Fish & Game officials are hoping the bear has headed out of town. After being sighted earlier yesterday at sites near Micron, between Micron and the New York Canal, and in Surprise Valley, the bear was seen again by a groundskeeper on the grounds of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in the late afternoon, prompting hopes that it was heading east out of populated areas.

However, around 2 a.m. today, the bear was spotted at Simplot Field in Columbia Village, a complex of soccer fields in a large suburban neighborhood of single-family homes on the southeastern fringes of town.

“And then we also got a report, the latest one was about 6:15 a.m., and that was near the Diversion Dam off (Highway) 21 there at the head of the New York Canal,” said Roger Phillips, Fish & Game spokesman. “So based on that, he seems to be moving in the right direction. But at the same time, as you can see, he bounced from the Shakespeare Festival yesterday afternoon up into Columbia Village, which is the direction we don’t want him to go. So I don’t want to get into the brain of a bear, but we’re a little concerned that he keeps bouncing back into neighborhoods, rather than wandering off into the wild like we’d like him to,” Phillips said.

“At at the same time, he’s right on the edge of town, so if he keeps going east … then hopefully he’s going to wander off, and we’ll have a happy ending to this.”

Fish & Game is estimating that the bear is around two years old, and likely in the 200-pound range. Though black bears aren’t uncommon in Boise, they more typically venture into town in the fall; in the spring, when they’re just coming out of hibernation, they typically don’t need to head to populated areas to find forage with all the new vegetation.

“We’re monitoring it, and if this thing gets back into a neighborhood, we’ll probably get to the point where we would be looking to immobilize it and physically move it,” Phillips said. “Public safety is our No. 1 priority here. … But we kind of have our fingers crossed that it’s going to wander off and back into the woods.”

As of 1:30 p.m. today, no further sightings had been reported.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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