City bear, country bear

It's been a banner week for bear sightings in upstate New York -- and not just in the remote, forested areas where bears are a regular fact of life, but in some unexpectedly urban spots as well.

Last Wednesday, a 200-pound young male black bear was spotted in Poughkeepsie. DEC officers tranquilized the bear and removed it for release in a less populated corner of Dutchess County. Flickr user Ben Helmer -- who took the photo above -- lives near the spot where the bear was trapped, and got some incredible photos of the process. Here's his Bear In Poughkeepsie photo album.

On Friday, another young bruin showed up in downtown Newburgh, where he gave a crowd of rubberneckers quite a show before the DEC could get there. The Times Herald-Record's Doyle Murphy clearly had a good time writing this one:

Every moving shadow looked like a bear. Every breaking twig sounded like bear.

It went from tree line to tree line to backyard. It hopped a fence on South William Street and landed in the enclosed yard of a warehouse on Johnes Street.

Here, watching a bear pace around a fenced-in lot seemed like watching an animal at the zoo — that is, until the bear lurched toward a small band of onlookers, reminding everyone it could probably climb out as easily as it climbed in.

In other bear news, Albany lawmakers are currently being raked over the coals by conservationists, who are upset about the state's failure to enact laws banning the sale of bear gallbladders and bile. From the New York Daily News:

The state's failure to enact laws banning the sale of bear gallbladders and bile has allowed New York to become a haven for poachers and profiteers who ship the valuable products overseas for use in traditional Asian medicines, wildlife advocates claim.

"Our biggest concern is about New York being used as a laundering point to get gallbladders out of the country," said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. "They are being shipped out of New York to places like Korea."

New York is one of only five states that have no prohibitions against the sale of bear parts - many of which end of being packaged and shipped back into the U.S. for sale in Chinatown and other Asian communities.

Closeup photo of sedated bear by Ben Helmer; reproduced with permission.