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London the ‘Byron Bear’ released into the wild, Ontario sanctuary group says

London being set free in northern Ontario on Wednesday. Bear With Us via Twitter

The black bear who made headlines early last month after he scaled a tree in London’s Byron neighbourhood has been released into the wild, according to the sanctuary group that had been looking after the animal, nicknamed ‘London.’

In a tweet and Facebook post on Thursday, Sprucedale, Ont.,-based Bear With Us Sanctuary said London had been set free in northern Ontario on Wednesday following weeks of recovery from a gunshot wound he sustained during the Byron incident on June 8.

Read more: ‘Byron Bear’ rescued from tree in London Ont., to return to wild next week

London, who was estimated to be about three-and-a-half years old, had been given a 20 per cent chance of survival after the wound became infected, according to the sanctuary’s founder, Mike McIntosh, in an interview last week with 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady.

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X-Rays found the severe infection was caused by bullet fragments that were lodged inside his hip and right leg, according to a video posted by the sanctuary on June 20.

Several weeks later, after removing the fragments and administering antibiotics, the National Wildlife Centre’s Dr. Sherri Cox found London’s wounds and infection to be healing well, McIntosh said.

“He was very close to not making it at all, so to have him do this turnaround is quite a thrill,” McIntosh said.

Click to play video: '‘Byron’ bear munching on snack at sanctuary' ‘Byron’ bear munching on snack at sanctuary
‘Byron’ bear munching on snack at sanctuary – Jul 11, 2020

Police had been called to the area of Oxford Street West, near the bridge west of Sanatorium Road, around 7 a.m. on June 8 for a reported bear sighting, but could not find the animal at the scene.

The bear was later located in a tree in Byron off the 1300 block of Commissioners Road West, prompting area residents to gather nearby out of curiosity.

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An officer shot and wounded the bear just after 11 a.m. when he began to climb down.

A team from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR) arrived at the scene soon after. Several hours later, around 9 p.m., the MNR team and a veterinarian were able to tranquillize the bear, who climbed down before the sedative took effect.

In a media release, police described the injury to the bear’s rear hind leg as minor.

Read more: June 8: Police warn public after black bear found in west London

Speaking with 980 CFPL last week, McIntosh explained what sanctuary officials would have to do to drive London into the wilderness and set him free.

“We have to put him in a travel crate, load him onto the truck, and it could be very hot so we’re going to do this early in the morning, [and] take him for a drive,” he said.
“We’ll open the gate and he’ll run like a deer, but to make sure he knows that people aren’t always friendly, we’re going to make some noises and try to scare [him] so he keeps on going for a while.”

— With files from Kelly Wang and Jacquelyn LeBel of Global News

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