PORTLAND – Sharon Forbis woke Friday to the sound of a dog barking outside her house at Veranda and Oregon streets in Maine’s largest city.

She went to the window and found a cluster of police officers staring up at a black bear in the large maple tree just outside her window.

“We all were hanging out the window, trying to see it,” she said.

Forbis’ son got a call on his cellphone from the police: “We’re calling to notify you there is a bear in your front yard,” police said, urging them to stay inside.

Police were alerted to the bear at 4:30 a.m. Friday and summoned the Maine Warden Service. Authorities tried to keep the bear in the tree until a warden service biologist could get there with a tranquilizer dart. They fired projectiles like paintball spheres at the tree trunk beneath the bear hoping to keep it from climbing down.

But before the biologist could get there, the bear made a run for it, scampering across Oregon Street and through some backyards to the wooded area along the Presumpscot River, near the bridge that leads to Falmouth.

The 120-pound bear was getting agitated and wardens worried that it would encounter a person.

“It was getting to be 7 o’clock, and you don’t want school buses and firearms on the scene,” said police Lt. James Sweatt.

The wardens decided to shoot the bear rather than have it run into the road or into other people’s yards.

The hide is being sent to the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife so researchers can determine the bear’s sex, age and health. The meat will be distributed to soup kitchens in the Portland area.

Bears sometimes come into residential areas at this time of year to forage for food to store up as they prepare for winter, said Edith Smith, spokeswoman for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Bears will target trash left unsecured, as well as bird feeders.

Another bear was seen this week in yards in Topsham. When an officer went to investigate, the bear was gone, authorities said.

Friday’s urban bear response may make it to national television. A crew with TV’s Animal Planet has been filming Maine wardens at work and was with the wardens when they responded in Portland.

Forbis said she was disappointed that the wardens had to shoot the animal.

“I’m not an animal activist, but there was no need to kill that bear,” Forbis said.

She said that if there was a long delay having a biologist respond with a tranquilizer gun, then the Portland police should have one available or keep one in the city that the wardens could use.

But Warden Rick LaFlamme, who shot the bear, said the animal’s behavior was unnatural and aggressive.

Even if the warden service had been able to tranquilize the bear, it would not have been able to release it into the wild because bear hunting season is under way, Smith said. Wardens could not risk releasing the bear and having a hunter harvest it and ingest the tranquilizer chemicals, she said.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]