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Police shot and killed a bear (top left) in Newton Sunday.
Police shot and killed a bear (top left) in Newton Sunday.Sanjay Salomon / Globe Photo

Massachusetts Environmental Police are facing a deluge of criticism over their fatal shooting of a black bear in West Newton on Sunday, but the agency is defending its decision.

“That decision was unfortunate. We don’t make those decisions lightly, and it’s always a last resort for us. It would have been difficult to haze him out of the area,” said Environmental Police Lieutenant Colonel Chris Baker.

Asked about the shooting at a State House media availability this afternoon, Governor Deval Patrick said, “I don’t know all the details about it.”

The bear made his way up a tree early Sunday in Newton near the Massachusetts Turnpike. The bear had been shot dead by about 7:30 a.m. A spokeswoman for the Environmental Police said Sunday that “tranquilizing was too difficult to accomplish."

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She said the decision to kill the bear, a male that weighed between 100 and 125 pounds, was “because of the proximity to the MBTA lines, Mass Pike, and and the urban environment and population.”


Martin Finucane and Michael Levenson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.