Celebrity in Albany: A Wounded Bear


New York Times, May 29th, 2014

FULL TEXT:

ALBANY — Tranquilized. Politicized. Euthanized.

So went the last days of the so-called Albany Bear, a renegade that endured a lengthy standoff and news media circus here before being captured by state wildlife officials and put down on Wednesday.

It was a sad and somewhat surreal denouement to a two-day event that had drawn the attention of concerned legislators, prompted barbs from quip-friendly candidates for governor and electrified Albany residents otherwise bored by a prolonged lull in local action.

The episode began early on Tuesday with reports that a small black bear had been spotted in the little town of Bethlehem, N.Y., just southwest of the capital.

(This was not, apparently, the bear’s first brush with the authorities: Ear tags indicated previous encounters with wildlife biologists, and bear activity had been reported in the area over the weekend.)

Finding itself in the suburbs was just the start of the animal’s woes. Reportedly struck by a car, it soon made its way into a residential neighborhood in Albany — and onto Twitter, where users quickly named the animal #AlbanyBear and set up accounts in its honor.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation warned residents to stay away from the wounded bear, but many local residents flocked to try to catch a glimpse of it, even after it clambered up a tree to spend the night.

By Wednesday morning, television news crews were on 24-hour bear watch: “The Albany Bear, at this time, is still up in a tree,” WNYT reported. Concerned animal lovers pleaded for mercy.

That included state lawmakers, who were observing Animal Advocacy Day at the Capitol on Wednesday. No joke.

Indeed, even as state workers tried to tranquilize and apprehend the bear, Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, a Democrat of Manhattan, issued a news release calling on them to “exercise restraint and patience in dealing with this terrified cub.” She added that she had been in contact with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office about the situation.

Even Mr. Cuomo’s Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, jokingly sought to use the ursine standoff to score a political point after being asked about it by a reporter. “I think the bear is just running from high taxes like everyone else,” said Mr. Astorino, the Westchester County executive, who was visiting Albany.

The bear’s life on the run, however, was over.

At 12:50 p.m., it fell from the tree “by its own accord,” said Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the conservation department. It was later put down “for humane and nuisance reasons,” she said.

It had no known survivors but was widely eulogized online, including by more than a few people sorry to see it go.

“The most exciting thing in Albany in months,” wrote one Twitter user, Derek Folts, “just came to an end.”

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About Suzi

No more wandering in the Hudson Valley. I have achieved my dream, it was a long time working toward it, but now I am here, living in NYC. My dream, my goal, my purpose in life. View all posts by Suzi

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