Police spent part of Sunday morning trying to play catch-up to a large black bear that was reported running around north Medford neighborhoods, including inside the perimeter fence of the airport.
Medford police first got a report of the bear at 7:19 a.m., when it was reportedly seen running toward the Marriott Hotel at Biddle Road and Airport Way, according to the Medford Police Department.
Three officers descended upon the area as more reports came of the bear being seen near Table Rock Road and Cascade Christian School in the ensuing 10 minutes.
And just like that, it was gone.
"We never did find the bear," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
Medford airport officials had spotted the animal at 3:20 a.m. Airport Director Bern Case said the bear was walking around outside a fenced area near the airport's fire station. Then, just as quickly as workers spotted it outside the fence, it was inside.
"It decided to go over the fence," Case said. "It was kind of amazing to me how easy it got over our fences."
Workers outside were notified to stay off the Tarmac because of the sighting. Airport officials lost sight of the bear for a while, but kept an eye on the runways in case it headed there while a plane was inbound for a landing. Case said the bear was spotted again about 7 a.m., when it jumped the fence near Medford Air and disappeared.
"After that it was out of our jurisdiction," Case said. "I was really pleased with the way my people reacted. It was handled very well."
Case said the bear sighting was a first, but animals do occasionally show up on airport property.
"A few years ago an elk herd came real close to our fences," he said. "Over the years we've had the occasional coyote or dog that gets in, but nothing like this before."
Occasionally, black bears wander into city limits and police will keep an eye on them but rarely take any action, usually just following them around until they leave, Budreau says.
"They're typically not a threat to anybody," Budreau said.