Ruston apparently has a big appetite for donuts. We have shops selling Southern Maid donuts; Daylite Donuts; In and Out donuts; and you can get Krispy Kremes at the grocery store. Not only do Rustonites love donuts; so do bears. More about this later.
Bill Sanderson is the Director of Animal Control for Ruston. Sanderson was one of a plethora of officers and professionals ranging from the Ruston Police Department, Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s office and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries who formed a team that eventually tracked down and captured the bear that created local interest at least at the same level of excitement as does opening day of the Ruston Peach Festival.
Sanderson provided a step by step progress report of the black bear’s jaunt around Ruston.
“The first report we got was Friday of a bear being sighted around Highway 80 near the old Alpine Nursing Home. Around 9:30, a report came in of a bear spotted on Morgan Street just off Highway 33. We talked with a witness who told us a bear had crossed Brewster St., headed through his yard toward Morgan St., “Sanderson said.
“We brought everybody in at the report of these sightings and learned the bear had been sighted on Ponder St., then it was seen on Monrovia, crossing Willow Glen, Center St,, then Sunset Blvd. before being spotted behind a house on Sandy Lane,” he continued in describing the wanderings of this very mobile bruin.
The search party patrolled in that area for a couple of hours without a bear sighting, assuming the bear had slipped away. The bear, however, wasn’t done; he had apparently found the city of Ruston to his liking.
“Along about noon, we had a report of a bear crossing N. Trenton St. next to Advance Auto Parts. We looked around that area most of the afternoon with no sightings.
“Around 4:10, someone flagged down a Deputy with the Sheriff’s office to report a bear had been hit by a car in front of Advance Auto Parts and was last seen it was headed southwest behind Portraits Plus,” Sanderson said.
Assuming they had the bear basically boxed in, everybody on the search team was brought to the area when one of the deputies reported hearing a growl coming from the bushes behind Portraits Plus. Uh oh…what seemed to be potential problem of a wounded bear in the bushes turned out to not be the case. The animal scooted up a Bradford Pear tree without a limp or a bobble; it was apparently not injured by its brush with a Buick.
“We sat there with the bear up the tree and watched closely with binoculars. He finally climbed down, traveled over into the area of the old Rock Island railroad bed and we lost sight of him,” said Sanderson.
There were no more sightings or reports of anyone seeing the bear the rest of the day but the search continued Saturday morning.
“One of the Ruston PD officers, Thomas Bailey and I, were looking in the area where he was last seen when we located the hungry bruin, digging in a trash can along Claiborne Ave. At that point, we notified the LDWF who came and set up their trapping operation,” he said.
Here’s where the donuts enter the picture. The tasty pastries were purchased from one of the shops in town, the trap was set downwind from where the bear was last seen and everybody sat back and watched.
“In a moment, the bear began sniffing the air catching the scent of the mouth-watering pastries, made his way to the trap, polished off the donuts on the outside of the cage trap and then stepped inside. End of story; the bear was finally captured and Ruston neighborhoods could now rest easy,” he said.
The bear was transported in the trap to the Wildlife office in Minden where it was sedated, examined, weighed, DNA samples taken and a micro-chip and tattoo added. After he revived, he was taken to an undisclosed public area and released.
Don’t be surprised to hear that the bear, wherever he is, is now sniffing the air for the nearest donut shop.