BOSTON (AP) - Oh, the perils of being wildly popular on the Cape.
Wildlife officials said Tuesday they stepped in to capture the first black bear to visit Cape Cod because its more-than-two-week visit had become a public spectacle.
A combination of curiosity seekers pursuing the 180-pound bruin and his foray close to downtown Provincetown led authorities to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart Monday. They released it on the mainland early Tuesday so neither the bear nor its fans would get hurt.
The capture culminated a trip that started Memorial Day weekend, when the animal is believed to have swum the 500-foot-wide Cape Cod Canal and began heading east. Residents captured photos and videos along the way as the animal visited a chicken coop, a cranberry bog and a golf course along a 60-mile stretch from Sandwich to the Cape's tip in Provincetown.
A Twitter feed and a Facebook account, purporting to belong to the bear itself, each picked up more than a thousand followers. Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said she granted the bear a Facebook friend request in the first week of his visit.
"It's sort of like the Queen's Jubilee in England. Everyone's just having a good time," she said Tuesday.
While she said many people were sad about his departure, the bear's visit created such a buzz that chamber officials planned to introduce a VIP guest at their annual meeting Tuesday night: a person wearing a bear suit.
"Just because he's been such a hit," Northcross said. "I mean, everybody loves the bear."
Jason Zimmer, a state Fisheries and Wildlife district manager on the Cape, said officials put an ear tag on the bear so they can recognize it in the future. He said the animal was 2 1/2 to 3 years old and healthy. Authorities relocated him to central Massachusetts to a place where other bears live so he can find a mate. They think the animal's breeding instinct might have prompted its wanderings.