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Famous falling bear tranquilized on Colorado campus is killed by cars days later

Andy Duann

A bear that wandered into the University of Colorado Boulder, Colo., dorm complex Williams Village falls from a tree after being tranquilized by Colorado wildlife officials, April 26.

Authorities say a bear made famous by a photo that captured the animal falling from a tree at the University of Colorado has been hit and killed by two cars.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say the black bear was struck on U.S. 36 around dawn Thursday by one car and then another.


Parks spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill told msnbc.com that officials identified the bear as the same one whose photograph went viral by checking an ear tag that was placed on him after last week's tree incident.

PhotoBlog: Tranquilized bear falls from tree at University of Colorado

Images of the 3-year old, 280-pound male bear, its arms and legs splayed as it fell April 26, were widely viewed in newspapers, on news websites, and passed around social networks.

The animal was later relocated to a wilderness area about 50 miles west of Boulder.

According to the Daily Camera, a 1992 Toyota Camry hit the bear first, followed by a 2002 Ford Focus. Police say one driver had minor injuries after hitting the bear.

Churchill said the bear will be buried or disposed of in the manner roadkill is usually handled.

"I'm not sure what condition the body was in," she added.

Churchill said relocating bears is a difficult proposition, as the animals often return to the areas they used to inhabit. "Animals have home ranges and if they find habitat and they're finding food, even in town, and they feel safe there, they'll stay there," she said.

"We need [citizens] to give these bears a chance by not attracting them to town with trash and bird feeders and other food sources."

Churchill said it's not uncommon for bears to be killed by cars in Colorado.

"It's very disheartening when we have to see animals die this way," she said. "I hope it's a teaching moment for people because we really owe it to wildlife to do the right thing if we're going to live near them."

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