Kennydale black bear may need hip surgery

The black bear brought down from a Kennydale tree last week by several public safety officials is awaiting treatment at the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood.

  • Friday, May 30, 2008 2:47pm
  • News

It took several public safety officials to lift the black bear that fell from a Kennydale tree and place him in an animal control truck April 23.. The bear is awaiting treatment for a dislocated hip and fractured ball joint at PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood.

The black bear brought down from a Kennydale tree last week by several public safety officials is awaiting treatment at the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood.

The bear’s right hip is dislocated, and the ball joint at the top of the hip bone is fractured.

PAWS spokeswoman Mary Leake Schilder said the bear could have sustained the injuries after falling from about 60 to 70 feet up in the Northeast 16th Street cedar tree. Or she says the bear could have had the injuries before the fall.

A PAWS wildlife veterinarian on Thursday morning had yet to decide if the bear would require surgery.

PAWS determined the male 250-pound bear is about 2 years old. PAWS assigned the bear a case number instead of a name.

“We don’t name wild animals — they’re not pets,” Leake Schilder said.

PAWS plans to mend the bear’s hip so that he can be returned to the wild.

“That’s our goal for sure,” Leake Schilder said. “The goal is to return the bear to the

wild… to repair his injuries so he’s mobile and can forage for food and do all the things that bears do.”

Bruce Richards will take the mended bear back to the wild. Richards is an officer for Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife. He brought the bear down from the Kennydale tree, first by shooting him with two tranquilizer darts, and then roping one of the bear’s legs.

“I was hanging onto the tree up there two to three feet from him, trying to get something on him to hook to the ladder truck to lower him down,” Richards recounts.

But it was not easy work. The rope came off the bear’s paw and he toppled backward out of the tree, into a tarp net below.

“It was not like somebody was saying ‘Here get my foot,’” Richards says. “The bear outweighs me by 70 pounds. What can I say? It just didn’t work.”

Once the bear fell from the tree, it took six safety officials to roll the bear in the tarp net and load him into an animal- control truck. Richards took the bear to his Enumclaw home, where he kept him in a giant tube on wheels, that he calls a bear trap. He kept the bear at his home for two days before dropping him at PAWS.

The bear’s injuries are far less severe than Richards feared.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” he said. “From how far he fell, basically I thought he would have worse injuries. He’s lucky. It’s unlucky it happened.”

Richards says the bear likely wandered into Kennydale after awakening from hibernation on Squawk or Cougar mountain, both east of Renton.

“He just woke up is what happened,” Richards said.

The bear was first spotted just before 6 a.m. last Wednesday by Robbin Schoonmaker, who lives at Northeast 16th Street and Aberdeen Avenue Northeast. Schoonmaker noticed the bear in her yard when she went outside to tend to her barking dog. She called 911.

The bear then ran down Aberdeen before ending up in the Northeast 16th Street cedar tree. A school bus stop was moved out of the bear’s path, and police sectioned off Northeast 16th Street from about Aberdeen Avenue Northeast to Dayton Avenue Northeast.

A bear in Kennydale was a first for most residents, and even Fish and Wildlife officer Richards.

PAWS usually gets one to two bears a year, but mostly orphaned cubs.

The cold winter means much area bear habitat and food is still snow-covered, Richards said. He doesn’t want to release the bear until more food is available, lest he return to Kennydale.

But once the bear is healed and the weather has warmed, Richards will take the bear back to the wild. He’ll have help from a Karelian bear dog named Mishka and rubber bullets.

“It’s called kind of a hard release,” Richards says.

A hard release involves lots of shouting and dog barking and sprays from rubber bullets. The dog is there partly to protect Richards and partly to scare the bear into leaving and not returning to any areas with barking dogs.

“It may look bad,” Richards says of his release tactics. “But I’m not trying to make the bear happy.”

Emily Garland can be reached at or (425) 255-3484, ext. 5052.

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