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TMCNet:  Top 10 local news stories of 2012: No. 10, 'Falling Bear' rules the Web

[December 21, 2012]

Top 10 local news stories of 2012: No. 10, 'Falling Bear' rules the Web

Dec 21, 2012 (Daily Camera - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A 280-pound black bear would seem like an unlikely Internet star, but a tranquilizer dart and a well-timed photo turned Boulder's own "Falling Bear" into just that as he tumbled his way out of a tree and into online fame this year.


It all started in late April after a bear decided to post up in a tree near the University of Colorado's Williams Village dorm complex. Wildlife officials tranquilized the bear and waited for it to fall out of the tree.

In the midst of all this, CU Independent photographer Andy Duann managed to capture a photo of the bear mid-fall in a pose perfect for all sorts of memes, GIFs and Photoshopped fun. The picture ruled Twitter when it went viral, giving birth to the #fallingbear hashtag and even Falling Bear parody accounts on Twitter.

Even Duann's story became news after there was a brief dispute about who owned the rights to the once-in-a-lifetime shot. The university ultimately ruled that Duann and not the student newspaper owned the rights to the photo.

But like too many stories of quick rises to fame, Falling Bear's ended in tragedy.

About a week after being relocated, the bear returned to Boulder, where it was struck and killed while crossing U.S. 36 early in the morning. Wildlife officials said it appeared the bear was trying to make its way back to where it originally was spotted -- but there would be no second photo shoot for the doomed bruin.

While Falling Bear's death garnered worldwide attention because of the bear's Internet fame, it highlighted a year in which wildlife in Boulder didn't always stay in the wild.

With dry weather creating a lack of resources in the foothills outside of Boulder, bears became a common sight around the county, with encounters everywhere from backyards near Fairview Elementary to cars on Flagstaff Road.

None of the bears in any of those cases had to be killed, but several had to be tranquilized and relocated, and wildlife officials did euthanize a mountain lion that killed a house cat near 26th Street and Mapleton Avenue.

The story of Falling Bear serves as a reminder that while encounters with wildlife can be all sorts of fleeting fun, they often don't end well for the animal.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.

Camera's top 10 local news stories of 2011 Editor's note: The Camera is counting down the Top 10 local news stories of 2012 as chosen by newsroom staff. Readers also voted for their top picks.

10. Boulder's 'Falling Bear' rules the Web ------ Readers' picks 10. CU men's basketball team wins Pac-12, breaks into Top 25 ___ (c)2012 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) Visit the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) at www.dailycamera.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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