Mama bear, 2 cubs climb tree in Puyallup neighborhood, surprise residents

PUYALLUP, Wash. – Three bears made a big scene in Pierce County after climbing a tree and startling neighbors.

A mother bear and her two cubs climbed nearly 100 feet into the tree early Tuesday morning.

“The homeowner heard something banging on their shed and the dog started barking and they saw the bear scurry up the tree,” said Sgt. Ted Jackson, of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wildlife officers placed scents on the ground to try coaxing the animals down. Bear traps were also set up in the neighborhood. Officers don’t plan on shooting tranquilizer darts because a fall from that height could be lethal to the bears.

After spending nearly 12 hours near the treetop, the bear brood didn’t budge.

“It’s just kind of a waiting game to see when they get too hot or thirsty if they’ll start to come down,” Jackson said.

Neighbors said they heard strange noises in their backyards on Monday night. When the sun rose, they were stunned to see the bears lodged up in the tree.

“The mother isn’t happy,” said Marie Askew. “Understandably so, she’s trying to protect her cubs.”

The cubs are about 1-year-old, according to wildlife officers. The mother has tags on her ear, which means she’s been trapped before.

“I just want people to stay back,” said Jackson. “I want that sow to stay comfortable enough to come down. As soon as it hits the ground, it will start running.”

Neighbors spent the morning and afternoon gawking at the wildlife and snapping pictures.

Askew said the experience was exciting.

“I’ve always wanted to see black bears in person,” she said. “My own backyard wasn’t where I expected to see them.”

Wildlife officers plan to continue monitoring the bears but Jackson said they would likely climb down after sunset.