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Black bear de-trees early Friday, quickly heads northward safely leaving Morris

The black bear which took up residence in a tree on Morris' east side on Tuesday finally came down and headed out of town early Friday morning. Scott Kelly, who lives across the street from where the bear was hanging out, shot this photograph from his living room window on Thursday.

MORRIS - A black bear that wandered into town on Tuesday night ended his brief stay in Morris when he climbed out of the tree he called home on the east side of Morris and headed north out of town about 1 a.m. on Friday.

The bear stood around in the street near East 9th Street and Oregon Avenue for about five minutes while law enforcement backed off a couple of blocks. The bear crossed Highway 28 near the former Anderson Acres building, then took off running to the north, said Morris Chief of Police Jim Beauregard.

"Fortunately, it was pretty quiet down there," Beauregard said. "He hit a field north of town and away he went."

It was the best ending the public and law enforcement -- and the bear -- could have hoped for, Beauregard said.

"It's nice for the people living down there," he said. "We kind of held up their lives for a few days, but they were very considerate of what we were trying to do. The animal survived and it came to a good conclusion."

On Thursday, law enforcement and wildlife officials expressed concern that the bear might be injured more seriously than previously thought after a woman hit the bear with her car Tuesday night.

The bear climbed into the tree after police tried to chase it out of town, and then it didn't leave Wednesday night, prompting concern it might be injured. However, Beauregard said the animal appeared healthy and wasn't limping when he left Friday morning.

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Tony Anderson said "he's off to do what bears do best: being a bear instead of a spectacle in town."

There's no feasible way to track the bear's movements without a radio collar, but Anderson suspects the bear will be avoiding towns and people if at all possible.

"This was by far the best option for everyone," Anderson said, although he added that he's surprised the bear, like the law enforcement officials standing watch, wasn't tempted to stay longer by the smell of the chicken fryer at Willie's Super Valu.

So the city population has dropped by one, and Beauregard said he doesn't expect that the bear will be promoting Morris as a vacation destination among his family and friends.

"He'll be telling them, 'Don't go to Morris,' " Beauregard joked. " 'You'll get hit by a car, people will chase you and they won't give you any food.'"