Police in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu had to shoot and kill a young black bear that was making its way into town Monday morning.

Police spokesman Sgt. Luc Tougas said officers received three separate calls from residents about a bear in the area. 

The first call came at 11:15 p.m. Sunday about the sighting of the bear behind a veterinary clinic on Boulevard St-Luc. 

Tougas said police couldn't locate the bear and initially doubted the veracity of the report because bear sightings near the town are extremely rare.

Their skepticism soon diminished when another call came in around 2 a.m. about a bear near a used car lot along Highway 35.

Police responded and this time saw the bear. Tougas said the animal measured about 1.2 metres long and weighed 68 kilograms.

Conservation officers, who police hoped could trap the animal, said they could only intervene if the bear was already confined.

"We were a bit surprised to learn that they didn't want to get involved as long as the bear wasn't confined," Tougas told CBC News.

"It's not like a cat or a dog — a bear is difficult to confine."

Police then lost track of the bear in a field and thought the animal was heading away from town.

However, at around 5 a.m. a third call came in reporting the bear in residential backyards closer to town in the area of Champlain Boulevard.

After trying conservation officials again and getting the same answer, police moved to contain the animal — which responded by rushing at the officers. 

Police brought the bear down with three shots, followed by a fourth to end the wounded bear's suffering. 

The bear was believed to be about two years old.

A local animal advocate says wildlife officials should have intervened.

"These people are paid by your taxes.  If they don't respond to a case like this, who should respond?" said Linda Robertson, spokeswoman of the SPCA in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

No one from the wildlife ministry was available to comment.