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Roving black bear is caught again

Wanderer from Cape spotted in Brookline after 100-mile trek

The 5-foot-tall black bear that had rambled around Cape Cod before being tranquilized and transported to Central Massachusetts two weeks ago made a return journey east, ascending a tall backyard tree in Brookline on Tuesday before being brought down by another tranquilizer dart.

MICHELE MCDONALD FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

The 5-foot-tall black bear that had rambled around Cape Cod before being tranquilized and transported to Central Massachusetts two weeks ago made a return journey east, ascending a tall backyard tree in Brookline on Tuesday before being brought down by another tranquilizer dart.

BROOKLINE — The maverick bear, having tasted the good life on Cape Cod, appears to be indefatigable in sniffing out new territory, particularly cushy, all-too-public perches.

On Tuesday morning, two weeks after its epic journey through cranberry bogs and manicured backyards ended with a tranquilizer dart in Wellfleet and a trip to the wilds of Central Massachusetts, the 180-pound, 5-foot-tall black bear was clinging to the branch of a white pine in the backyard of a multimillion-dollar home here. It was closer to Boston than any bear has been spotted in recent times and soon sustained another dart.

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“Bears are moving east,” said Major Wil Gray, inland bureau chief of the Massachusetts Environmental Police, noting that the bear found in Brookline trekked about 100 miles after being released following his June 12 capture. “We’re going to have to learn to live with them, and perhaps change some of our habits, so we can coexist more harmoniously.”

Gray and other state officials said the 2½-year-old male bear, one of an estimated 4,000 in the state, probably embarked on its odyssey in an effort to establish its own territory. The state’s bear population is growing between 5 percent and 8 percent a year, making such explorations more likely in coming years.

When Brookline police found the bear shortly before 8 a.m., about 50 feet up the tree behind a $4.9 million home on Pine Road, they attracted a crowd of gawkers and decided they would have to take the intruder down with another dart, even if it meant a long, perilous fall.

“Our first concern is the public’s safety,” Gray said later at a news conference at the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife field headquarters in Westborough.

Their find came after recent sightings of black bears across the region, including in Dedham, Mendon, Medway, Medfield, Needham, and Walpole. Officials do not know if the previous sightings were the same bear, though they suspect it had rambled across vast swaths of Southeastern Massachusetts in the past year.

The first reports of a bear in Brookline came in Monday night, but police could not find the wandering bruin. So Chief Daniel O’Leary decided to flood the area with officers early Tuesday. Sherry Leventhal was skeptical when police showed up at her house in the Chestnut Hill section of Brookline and told her that a bear was roosting on her property.

“I’ve seen wild turkeys,’’ she said. “We’ve had a fox once. But never a bear.

“I had breakfast watching the bear out my front window, which was quite a freaky experience.”

Douglas Chope, 48, a neighbor of the Leventhals, was impressed. “Pretty-good sized bear,’’ Chope said. “We’ve had deer, we’ve had coyote, and supposedly someone saw a wolf at some point. But obviously never a bear.”

After 9 a.m., with the crowd of onlookers growing, an Environmental Police officer, operating from a cherry picker, shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart. About 20 minutes later, from 75 feet, the woozy animal lost its grip and plummeted to the ground, its fall broken by branches and bushes.

Gray said his officers are not equipped with any devices to try to cushion the fall of an animal they tranquilize. “You try to do the best you can in the situation,” he said. “If the bear decided to come down, we wouldn’t have been able to control him.”

Once the bear landed, officers shot it with another tranquilizer dart. Then they wrapped it in a sheet and green netting and covered its eyes, so it would not be frightened by the crowd.

Afterward, they brought the bear to a truck packed with 480 pounds of ice shavings to control its body temperature. The drugs can cause an increase in temperature, potentially endangering an animal’s health, said Reggie Zimmerman, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Gray said the bear was doing fine. “He was not injured as a result of the fall,” he said. “Bears are resilient.”

The peripatetic animal had been spotted in numerous Cape towns since May 27 and is believed to have swum across the Cape Cod Canal. After it was tranquilized earlier this month and moved to an undisclosed Central Massachusetts location, biologists placed a tag on the bear’s ear, which allowed them to identify it, officials said.

Neither Gray nor other officials would say where the animal was being taken this time, except to note that it would be released farther west than before. Bears can travel as much as 10 miles a day.

They said there is no guarantee it would not return to another posh location unaccustomed to bears, which are becoming increasingly inviting as bears multiply and seek new turf. “This could happen again,’’ said Tom O’Shea, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

John Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel. Evan Allen can be reached at ­evan.allen@globe.com.
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