Black bear roaming Newmarket backyards shot dead by police

York Regional Police have killed a black bear that had been roaming suburban Newmarket, Ont., about 50 kilometres north of Toronto, over the past several days.

Officers encircled the bear in the backyard of a home on London Road, near Yonge Street and Davis Drive, around 7 a.m. ET.

They used loud noises to get the bear to climb a nearby tree as they waited for officials from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry who were supposed to arrive around 8:45 a.m., but were apparently late.

Police said they were forced to shoot the bear after it began climbing down from the tree. Officers were concerned because many children in the neighbourhood were walking to school.

"Bear began coming down from a tree and became a risk to people in the area. Officers have shot the bear due to having no other options," the force tweeted shortly after the incident.

"Officers do not have tranquilizers or other options for dealing with wildlife. We could not let the bear harm a person while waiting for MNR [Ministry of Natural Resources]."

Residents frustrated

Some residents who were watching the incident unfold from a nearby street expressed frustration that the Ministry of Natural Resources had been aware of the bear for several days, but was unable to send anyone to the scene on time to tranquillize and transport the bear to another location.

John Almond, a supervisor with the ministry, said he received a call from police at his home in Bradford on Monday around 6:20 a.m. ET and immediately began preparing to travel to Newmarket.

"We have a lot of equipment that has to come and we have a lot of staff that need to be mobilized," he told reporters outside the property where the bear was killed, as some local residents berated him from behind news cameras.

He added that ministry staff could not attempt to "chemically immobilize" and move the bear earlier because it would have had to be stationary for long enough to respond, but this particular bear was moving around a lot until Monday morning when police cornered it.

'Terrible and wrong'

The bear caused a stir on social media over the weekend as residents in the area posted photos and video online. On Monday, people took to Twitter and other platforms to decry the bear's death as unnecessary and criticize police for not trying to subdue the animal first.

"It was out there for more than 24hrs and didn't do a thing. Let animal services deal with it. This is just terrible and wrong," @poisonivy2425 wrote on Twitter.

"Unimpressed with newmarket @YRP and the killing of the #newmarketbear. Killing him/her wasn't the answer," said @SicilianaBeauty.

A few came to police's defence, saying the safety of humans must come first.

"Bear was coming down the tree - House 500m from elementary school - kids were walking to school and in playground safety first #newmarketbear," @dunk14 said.

Monday's shooting had some expressing concerns about the fate of a peacock that has been on the loose since it escaped from a Toronto zoo last week.

"Look out #HighPark #peacock @PeelPoliceMedia are shooting animals today #Toronto #newmarketbear," one person tweeted.

The peacock went unseen for part of the weekend, but CBC's Peter Armstrong saw the peacock at around noon on Monday near a restaurant on Roncesvalles Avenue.

A city spokeswoman said staff were planning to set out a feeding station for the peacock in local parks in order to draw him to a location where he could be contained.

"The bird is frightened by all of the attention and has been selecting roof tops and trees to perch," said Nancy MacSween."Once grounded, we will try to corral into corner or channel and secure."