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A black bear fell about 20 feet from a tree in Salt Lake City after wildlife officials tranquilized it but were unable to provide it with a gentle landing.

SALT LAKE CITY – A black bear that ventured from the nearby mountains into a Salt Lake City neighborhood fell 20 feet from a tree Wednesday morning after being tranquilized by wildlife officials who were unable to provide him with a gentle landing.

The 2-year-old male black bear that towers over the tree-lined streets at the foot of Utah’s Capitol Hill took a hard fall to the road below but survived. The state’s Division of Wildlife Resources released the bear later Wednesday into a more ideal habitat in the mountains after the agency said it passed several health tests.

The young bear’s adventure in the city was cut short when wildlife officials shot him with tranquilizer darts, causing him to slip and fall as he descended from the tree, spokesman Scott Root said. They had tried to position a truck under the tree to break his fall, but were unable to secure him in time.

The city’s fire department and parks department deployed trucks with ladders and buckets to help rescue the bear from the tree, but to no avail, said conservation spokeswoman Faith Heaton Jolley.

“The ladders could only be used after the bear was tranquilized so they wouldn’t scare it out of the tree,” she said.

Rescue crews then placed the bear in a tube-shaped cage, administered a fast-acting drug to counteract the effects of the tranquilizers, and tagged its ear to track its location.

Local residents had gathered just a few blocks north of downtown to watch officers capture the animal, and many flinched as it fell to the ground. Bears are resilient animals and have recovered from falls in the few cases where local officers have been unable to capture them, Root said.

Black bears – the only species of bear found in Utah – typically emerge from hibernation in mid-March, but they are rarely seen in the capital city despite its proximity to the mountains, he said.

The bear, Jolley said, was probably searching for food and water away from the dry foothills.

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