- Associated Press
Friday, December 9, 2016

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - A black bear that caused a stir in an east Alabama city is no more.

The bear was killed in the Talladega National Forest in Clay County, and a Talladega man faces charges for killing the animal, Capt. Johnny Johnson with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries told the Opelika-Auburn News on Thursday.

Johnson said he didn’t know what day the bear was killed, but Matthew Gage Stewart, 22, of Talladega has been arrested and charged with shooting a black bear, a Class A misdemeanor.

The bear was killed with a crossbow, Johnson said.

If convicted, Stewart could face a minimum fine of $2,000 and up to a year in jail. Court records do not show a defense attorney who could speak on Stewart’s behalf.

Officials were able to identify the bear from a tag that was placed on it after its encounter with wildlife officials in Opelika on June 29, Johnson said.

“It was (an) over 300-pound male bear,” Johnson said. “.It was healthy. A biologist looked at it and there was nothing wrong with it.”

When the bear was spotted in Opelika, he closed down streets and brought out onlookers as officials tried to capture it in June. The bear also caused a stir locally online with social media posts about the bear tagged with the hashtag #OpelikaBear. Local ice cream shop, O-Town Ice Cream issued a special flavor in honor of the bear, bear claw coconut.

Alabama Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement personnel, with the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences faculty, tranquilized the bear, loaded it in into an Opelika police trailer and transported it to a wild area where it was released.


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, https://www.oanow.com/

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