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Bear leaves spectators behind in Duluth's Lincoln Park

Minnesota Conservation Officer Randy Hanzal watches a young black bear as it leaves a parking lot in Lincoln Park this afternoon. The bear crossed Superior Street and went up the hill into an residential area.(Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune)

A black bear up a tree in Duluth's Lincoln Park business district Wednesday afternoon clambered down after about two hours and walked away from the crowd that had gathered to see it.

The bear had come through US Bank's parking lot shortly after noon and climbed a 20-foot conifer tree along 20th Avenue West.

Gloria Moen, a mortgage loan officer in the bank, was in the bank across 20th Avenue West from the parking lot when she heard someone exclaim: "There's a bear in the parking lot."

Moen said the bear came from the direction of Interstate 35 shortly after noon and it appeared about to cross Superior Street when it got scared, circled around the lot, and climbed about halfway up the tree until it was fairly well screened by needles.

"I don't know how it will get out of here," Moen said. "Poor thing."

The sight of a bear in the heart of a busy commercial area quickly attracted a crowd of spectators.

"Everybody came and you saw a smile on their face. It was cool," Moen said.

About 2:15 p.m., the bear came down, worked its way around the lot and after a couple of abortive attempts, crossed Superior Street between 19th and 20th avenues west. It walked up an alley toward Arrowhead Dairy Products. Spectator Lindsey Clark said she saw the bear run under a parked semi-truck before she lost sight of it.

Jonas Ekse was one of those who gathered to see the bear. "It's the first time I've ever seen a bear in the city of Duluth itself," he said. "I've seen white-tailed deer all the time."

Duluth police Officer Daryl Diver was soon on the scene, keeping the crowd away from the tree.

It's not clear where the bear came from, though Diver said someone reported seeing a bear earlier on a section of I-35 that's closed for construction near 27th Avenue West.

The bear appeared to be at least a yearling. Diver estimated it weighs about 120 pounds.