A black bear that wandered into London, Ont., on Tuesday morning was shot by police when wildlife officers couldn't get there in time to deal with it, the London Police Service said.

The male bear was first reported to law enforcement at 4:30 a.m. on the outskirts of the west-end neighbourhood of Byron, near the London Hunt and Country Club, police said in a statement. It was seen again an hour later a block to the west, across the Thames River, and about an hour after that in the same area.

Police caught up with the bear and called Ontario's Natural Resources Ministry, but wildlife officers weren't immediately able to get to the scene to try to tranquilize the animal or trap it. London police said they alerted schools, residents and stores in the area as a precaution.

Then at 9:44 a.m., under the watchful eyes of several constables, including at least one rifle-armed sniper, the bear charged at a police officer and was shot. It limped away and died not far off. 

"We did not have the operational support of the [Ministry of Natural Resources], which left dispatching the bear as our only responsible course of action," the police force said.

"I would say it would be a threat if it's hungry," police officer Craig Pearson told the London Free Press. "They can be unpredictable, especially in spring when they're first looking for food."

Natural Resources will collect the animal's body to study it.

It is thought the bear wandered from the Bruce Peninsula in search of food.