Skip to Content

Bear-y unusual day for black bear that scampered through Madras, climbed tree, was tranquilized and relocated to forest

Courtesy Johnny Russell

(Updated: bear climbs tree, is tranquilized, moved to forest; ODFW statement, resident video)

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – A black bear that scampered through Madras streets and backyards on Wednesday, drawing plenty of attention, eventually climbed a backyard tree, where it hung out for several hours until officials tranquilized the animal. Once the entangled bear was freed from branches, it fell into a net and was relocated to a national forest.

Warm Springs resident Michaela Camas says she was leaving one son’s first-year doctor’s appointment in Madras to pick up another son at high school basketball camp Wednesday morning when she first spotted the bear behind Madras Medical Group.

Then, Camas saw it again while driving along 10th Street and grabbed about 30 seconds of cellphone video as it ran down the sidewalk, then into someone’s yard. The bear on the run then picked up speed, crossing a fortunately not-busy street near the intersection and eventually climbing a fence into someone’s backyard.

“I knew there were people walking” in the area, Camas said, so she decided to call 911, which had her share information with Oregon State Police, to get the addresses the cub may have gone to.

The baby can be heard squealing on the video - but not from sighting the bear, “actually just upset from shots after his appointment,” Camas said.

On scanner frequencies, police could be heard responding to reports of various sightings of the bear as it ran primarily through backyards, said to be crossing Fourth Street at one point and “running up the hill towards Dairy Queen” at another.

Madras resident Johnny Russell lives on the east side of town, along Seventh Street, at the home where the bear decided to hop a fence – far from its first of the day – and in this case climb high up a 40-foot-tall backyard tree around 11:30 a.m.

"It was running from something - I'm not sure what," Russell said.

It took a few hours for the various state and local agencies involved to assemble and begin their effort to tranquilize and remove the bear.

The bear was tranquilized about 3:30 p.m., Russell said, but rather than fall into a waiting net, it got hung up in some branches.

Russell said Jefferson County Fire & EMS had someone climb the tree to free the tranquilized bear, and once it was freed, it fell 25-30 feet to where Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police and local first responders caught it with a net.

ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told NewsChannel 21, "The bear was not a human safety concern (not aggressive, not food conditioned or habituated, and not seen repeatedly in the daytime hours). There were no other previous sightings or reports, and she was likely pushed further into town than she had intended.

"With this information, ODFW made the decision to release the bear into the national forest," Dennehy said, adding, "We are pleased it worked out this way and thank all the agencies who helped us in responding." 

Asked if he thought those on scene handled the situation well and professionally, Russell said: “Absolutely – 100 percent.”

Madras Police Chief Timothy Plummer agreed, calling it "a good team effort by all."

ODFW has an online guide on “How to help keep bears wild” and avoid human-bear encounters. While deer and elk sightings are almost routine for many Central Oregonians, ODFW estimates there are 25,000 to 30,000 black bears in Oregon, and says "most forage safely in the woods." They also remind folks that it's illegal to directly or indirectly feed bears, a Class A misdemeanor.

Article Topic Follows: Wildlife

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content