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Game Commission Officer: Bear in Richland Probably on Move

Give the bear space, conservation officer advises.

Game Commission Officer: Bear in Richland Probably on Move Game Commission Officer: Bear in Richland Probably on Move Game Commission Officer: Bear in Richland Probably on Move

To hear the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Dan Puhala talk about black bears can be, well, reassuring.

A black bear was  in Grandview Estates, a residential neighborhood in that is replete with children and pets.

Asked in a phone interview if he has received many calls recently about bears in Richland Township, wildlife conservation officer Puhala said "no." Actually, he said, he's gotten more calls from West Deer Township to the east of Richland.

If you see a bear in a residential neighborhood, Puhala advises you to "give it space." 

Bear attacks are extremely rare in Pennsylvania, he continued, adding that deer are more dangerous because they are the culprit in many automobile accidents that kill people.

If a bear starts hanging around a neighborhood, Puhala said, he will set a trap for it, and most likely will do that soon for a situation in Indiana Township near West Deer.

"Lots of time if you see a bear, it's just moving through," he said. 

Typically what happens at this time of year is that female bears [sows] say goodbye to the cubs they have been raising for the past year or so because it is mating season, he said.

The young bears are roaming around looking for food and have not yet learned to fear people, said Puhala.

"They're the ones that tend to get in trouble," he said, adding that they will get into people's garbage and bird feeders.

Sightings of what seems to be several bears in an area might actually be just one bear, said Puhala.

"They can go a considerable distance ... 20 miles in a day," he said.

Puhala recommends putting bird feeders away for a couple of weeks and storing trash in a secure area, such as your garage, to eliminate food sources for the bear.

"They'll usually move on if there's no food," he said.

If you encounter a bear -- even a mother with a cub -- slowly back away, he said. The bear most likely will back off also.

Although bear-human altercations are rare in Pennsylvania, Puhala said an encounter with a black bear is different than, say, a grizzly.

"You can't play dead with a black bear," he said. "You have to fight back with all you've got."

When asked what he would tell someone who sees a bear in their neighborhood, Puhala gave this reply:

"I would say to people not to just look at bears and be fearful. See it as a unique opportunity to see wildlife."

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