PROVINCETOWN — A popular wandering bear’s weeks-long tour of Cape Cod has come to an end.
After bumbling through backyards and cranberry bogs in a variety of communities, the 3-year-old black bear made a visit to the popular town of Wellfleet, which turned out to be its last stop.
On Monday night, wildlife officials tranquilized the animal and safely captured him in Wellfleet, a police dispatcher said. Details were not available and state wildlife officials could not be reached for comment.
“I just know that it’s been successfully captured and everything is OK,” said Wellfleet dispatcher Cheryl Mulligan.
Officials had decided earlier in the day to try to capture the bear because of concerns over safety.
“Wildlife officials are concerned for the safety of the bear and people now,” said Krista Selmi, assistant secretary of communications and public affairs for the executive office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “So chemical immobilization is back on the table now.”
Reversing course from last week, officials were trying to find the bear and relocate him, Selmi said, before the capture later in the evening. The decision was made not because of concerns that the bear would act aggressively, but because of its celebrity status.
“We don’t think the bear is going to attack anybody,” Selmi said, “but the safety threat is because people are actively looking for the animal.”
Cape residents have been fascinated by the unusual visitor, whose appearance has spawned T-shirts and bear-themed novelties. Twitter and Facebook accounts purporting to be the bear’s musings have thousands of followers.
Some residents have placed cameras in their yards, or have tried to track the bear in the woods, hoping to catch a glimpse.
After missing a bear sighting on his street in Orleans, Mike Messersmith, 18, couldn’t resist an opportunity to see the bear.
“I never thought a bear would be on Cape Cod,” said Messersmith, who explained that he had spent “like an hour on my road, running through the woods — which was kind of scary because I was out there looking for a bear.”
Strolling through Wellfleet Harbor on Monday, Roland Poirier, 59, said he considered the visitor to be harmless.
Poirier, of Weston, Conn., who owns a summer house in Eastham, said he and his 18-year-old daughter, Alison, were excited about the bear’s presence.
“I think it’s the coolest thing,” he said. “So random. How the heck did it get here? It’s fantastic.”
State wildlife officials said the bear, which has been traversing the Cape for the last two weeks, most likely swam across the Cape Cod Canal to get to the area.
Earlier Monday, the bear was seen in Truro, heading into Wellfleet, leading to speculation that the bear’s vacation was nearing an end.
The Large Animal Response Team working with the Environmental Police had been tasked with capturing and relocating the animal.
“I think it’s a danger to the kids because the bear will protect itself and the kids may not know not to approach it,” said Deanna Lamarre, a mother of four visiting Barnstable without her children Monday. “I wouldn’t let my kids go anywhere alone if they were here.”
But not everyone agreed.
Paul Rivers, a Boren man who came to Provincetown on a jewelry hunt, said he was not sure that removing the bear was necessary.
“It is a dangerous situation, but he hasn’t been a danger to anyone,” Rivers, 55, said. “He could have a den already, so I have mixed feelings about moving him.”
One young girl fishing, 8-year-old Grace Racca of Franklin, had a theory that the bear was simply looking for love in the wrong places.
“I was wondering if he was looking for a mate,” Racca said. “Actually, I really hope he finds one.”