Bear right at the junction: Wild animal hits the road in Chinese town

A local motorist filmed the animal’s walk through the streets.
PHOTO: Weibo

A wild brown bear has been pictured walking through the streets of a town in southwest China.

The animal was spotted and filmed by a motorist in Garze, which is located high on the Tibetan Plateau in Sichuan province.

The driver followed the animal through the streets after spotting it at crossroads early on Saturday (July 3).

Local police were alerted and located the animal at around 4am, according to a notice published on the WeChat account of the Shiqu county police. Residents living in the area were evacuated while the animal wandered the streets.

The bear first entered the courtyard of the police station and then climbed over a wall and entered a residential community.

The animal is believed to have returned to the grassland surrounding the town after its night-time stroll.
PHOTO: Weibo

The local police searched the community as well as other areas of the town but could not find the bear.

A local official told the news portal that “it may have run back to the grassland” surrounding the town.

The bear did not attack or injure anyone in the town.

Shiqu county is located high on the Tibetan Plateau at an average altitude of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) and the population is largely made up of ethnic Tibetan herders.

It is an important ecological protection area in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, with scattered lakes and wetlands and is home to many rare animals such as snow leopards, white-lipped deer and black-necked cranes.

Wild bears have been spotted in the area several times in recent years.

In October 2019, a bear was found eating apples in a rural village. The animal was anaesthetised by members of the local forestry and grassland bureau and then returned to a local forest, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

In July last year, a mother bear was seen feeding her three cubs on a nearby mountain.

In November 2019, two forest rangers helped rescue an injured snow leopard they found during a patrol. The animal was treated for injuries to its left forelimb and hindlimb before being returned to the forest, according to the Sichuan Daily newspaper.

“From rescuing snow leopards to brown bears, it indicates the natural environment in Shiqu has been substantially improved,” Luo Lin, Shiqu’s chief official, told local media.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.