Updated with comment from the Marion Police

The bear that wasn’t there?

Nov 5, 2021

The Marion Police reported on Oct. 28 that a bear was spotted near the Marion-Wareham town line — but the photo of the bear that police claimed was in the region was actually taken in Connecticut.

The photo was taken at around 9 a.m. on Oct. 28 by the son of a man who lives in Marion. The Marion man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had no idea how the picture got to Marion Police. 

He explained that his son took the photo of the bear behind his grandson’s tipped-over basketball hoop, along with a second photo showing the bear wandering through the subdivision where he lives, and soon shared it with a group chat including family members.

It “scared the living daylights out of him,” the man reported. 

When the man’s granddaughter sent him the Facebook post by Marion Police that included the picture of the bear, warning him to be careful, he said he recognized the photo right away. 

“The photo is good, but it did not happen in Marion,” the man said. 

The man showed the initial messages from his son, along with time stamps, to this reporter. 

It’s unclear how the photo, which may have been posted to Facebook by another of the man’s Connecticut-dwelling relatives, made its way to the Marion Police department within hours of being taken.

The man said that he debated whether or not to come forward with the information, but ultimately decided to do so as he didn’t want people to be unnecessarily afraid.

While it’s possible that someone saw a different bear in the area that morning, the Marion Police Department’s claim that the photo was of the Massachusetts bear seems to be false.

Marion Police Chief Richard Nighelli didn’t offer much clarifying information about the source of the photo or the purported sighting in a conversation with Wareham Week on Nov. 9. 

“It came from someone reliable,” Nighelli said.

He said that the department was passing on what they were told, although the post, which read “there has been a bear sighting,” likely led people to believe this was a substantiated sighting. 

“We do our best to vet the photos,” Nighelli said. 

The Marion Police Department has not updated its Facebook page to clarify that the bear photo was not taken in Marion.