A Himalayan black bear mauled a person inside the BSNL office near MG Marg here on early Wednesday morning and then found itself cornered in one part of the multi-storied building for the better part of the day before Sikkim forest officers tranquillised in the evening.
The bear is believed to have strayed in from the nearby forests in the dead of the night, but the fact that the animal managed to reach the heart of the town has given rise to concern. This, though, is not the first instance of a bear attack in a populated area around the state capital.
The victim of the bear attack is a BSNL official who resides at the building. The animal is believed to have pounced on him with its claws with such ferocity that a chunk of hair came off his scalp along with the skin. He also received deep injuries to the hand. “The injured person has been admitted to the STNM Hospital where his condition is stable,” said Dichen Lachungpa, the divisional forest officer, (Wildlife) East.
The bear was first noticed in the area by Sonam, who lives next to the BSNL building. “It was around 4am when I heard some noises outside my house. When I opened the door, I saw this huge bear standing right in front. I somehow managed to close the doors despite the bear pushing from outside,” he said.
The animal is then believed to have entered the BSNL building. After being informed about the incident, a posse of wildlife officials immediately arrived and confined the bear to one part of the building that has many rooms. The foresters struggled throughout the day to tranquillise the animal and even burst tear gas shells and burned chilly flakes to smoke out the bear.
“We finally tranquillised the bear in the evening and have taken it to the veterinary hospital of the Himalayan Zoological Park,” said Lachungpa.
Wildlife experts, however, expressed concern over the use of tear gas shells and chilly smoke before tranquillising the animal. Himalayan black bears are a protected species under Schedule 2 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972, according to Lachungpa, and are also listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
“The smoke from both the tear gas and chilly flakes could have endangered the life of the bear. This is no way to go about tranquillising an animal,” said an expert.