Mama bear, frightened cub rescued from large tree in Northern California

A "screamy" bear cub was rescued from a tree near a store parking lot in Eureka, Calif. on Monday, June 10, 2024. (Humboldt Bay Fire)

Police and firefighters in Eureka responded to an unusual call on Monday– after a mother bear and her cub ended up in a large tree near a store parking lot.

Emergency officials said the bears were first seen trying to cross Broadway Street, a main thoroughfare near the Pierson Building Center, a lumber and hardware store.

"The cub got frightened and ran back into the tree, so then the mama went back to get it," Eureka police spokesperson Laura Montagna told KTVU.

The mother bear climbed about a quarter of the way up the tree, but the frightened cub kept going and went even higher. 

Experts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) arrived on scene and were able to tranquilize the mother.

A mother bear and her frightened cub were rescued from a tree in Eureka, Calif. on Monday, June 10, 2024. (Humboldt Bay Fire)

Montagna said it took about ten minutes for the tranquilizer to take effect and the mother ended up climbing higher up the tree to get to her cub.

Once the mother bear was sedated, Humboldt Bay Fire rescue crews used an engine ladder to get to the animals. They had to cut back tree limbs to access the bears.

Crews were met with a sweet scene once they reached the mama and her baby.

"The cub was curled up with the mom," Montagna said, adding that they eventually managed to get a hold of "the screamy cub," brought it down, and placed it in a cage.

Rescue workers then went up again to retrieve its mother. 

She weighed about 150 pounds, so it took two people to strap her onto a sled-like stretcher and bring the animal down, which they did safely. She was also then placed in a cage. 

CDFW officials said ideally, they like to let the bears come down from trees on their own, but in this case, the bears were in danger as they tried to cross the road and then got stuck.

"The bears were just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Kiana Hargreaves, a human wildlife conflict specialist with the agency said. "In a perfect scenario, we would have waited until nightfall and then let the bears come down on their own, but with early morning traffic and a growing spectator crowd, the safest option for everyone was to immobilize the sow, capture the cub, and move them to the closest suitable habitat," Hargreaves added. 

Two rescue workers brought a mother bear, weighing about 150 pounds, down from a tree in Eureka, Calif. on Monday, June 10, 2024.  (Humboldt Bay Fire)

CDFW experts took the animals, evaluated them, and fitted the mother with a GPS collar, before releasing the pair to a nearby wooded area on Bureau of Land Management property on Tuesday.

Montagna shared a photo of the animals from the wildlife agency, showing the two walking off into the forest together. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a wayward mother bear and her cub back into the wild after they were rescued from a tree in Eureka, Calif. on Monday, June 10, 2024. (California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

On Facebook, Humboldt Bay Fire shared, "We are happy to know Mama and baby will be in a safer and less populated area and know they’ll be much happier."