Bear seen wandering in Roxborough finally caught

Andrew Kramer
June 13, 2019 - 2:51 pm
bear

Courtesy of Joe Smoot

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UPDATED: 8 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A bear cub that has been seen several times in the Philadelphia area — most recently in the East Falls section of the city, as of Wednesday — has been caught after being spotted in Roxborough. 

Officials finally were able to tranquilize the bear and capture it in the woods along Manatawna Avenue.

“Our game plan is usually to take it elsewhere, obviously a good distance away from here so he doesn’t return. In the past, they’ve taken them out west to Dauphin County or up north, central northeast just because there’s more land out there and plenty of room for it to roam," State game warden Tyler Barnes said. 

Game Commission officials confirmed the game warden shot the bear with a tranquilizer, as of 5:30 p.m. The cub, however, was still on the loose.

Nearby neighbors say they caught a glimpse of the bear at Cathedral Village, a retirement community. A resident said the bear knocked on her window.

Previous bear cub sightings

On Wednesday, the animal was seen near the Wissahickon Brewing Company and the Hilltop at Falls Ridge condo complex on Schoolhouse Lane.

Brewery owner Tim Gill told CBS 3 Wednesday certainly wasn't a typical day.

"We're family-friendly, pet-friendly, but we never expected a bear to come around and join us as well," he said.

Officials say they think this is the same bear that was seen in Oreland and Wyndmoor in Montgomery County a few days ago and, before that, in Warrington, Bucks County.

They believe the bear entered the city through a series of trails along the Wissahickon Park into the Fairmount Park area, and they say the bear has been moving unusually fast. Czech says another bear took a similar route. 

"Two years ago, same thing happened," he said. "One came down to the same area and ended up in the upper Wissahickon. This one just happens to be the lower Wissahickon."

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Officials think the bear is probably a male, about 100 pounds, that got sent away by his mother to find his own territory. 

Philadelphia Police sent up drones and a helicopter on Wednesday, blaring a siren in an attempt to get the bear to move. Authorities left after about two hours of searching, and advised neighborhood residents to be vigilant and call 911 if they spot the bear.

The warden said the bear is probably pretty scared by all the activity. They hope to find the bear soon, tranquilize it and get it moved to a more appropriate habitat. 

Anyone who sees the bear in the meantime is encouraged to call 911.

What to do if you spot a bear

With several bear sightings in the area, it's a good idea to know what to do if you happen to encounter one.  

Duane Diefenbach, adjunct professor of wildlife ecology at Pennsylvania State University, said the black bears exploring the Delaware Valley are likely yearling males who've been run off by their mothers.

"They're trying to find a new territory that they can set up where there aren't older male bears around, so they usually end up in places where they run into problems," Diefenbach said. 

And those are human-made. 

"The bear's in greater danger than people, because it's likely to get hit by a car or just get into a situation that's too dangerous," he said. 

Bears will eat whatever is around, so Diefenbach said to make sure to remove temptations like pet food, bird feeders and garbage. 
 
In the unlikely event that you find yourself face-to-face with a bear, "my guess is that the bear's going to run away faster than you can," he said.  

But if it doesn't, Diefenbach said to "just back up, and slowly move backwards and in a direction that you're not cornering or threatening the animal." 

And, he said, make sure you report the sighting to authorities so they can track down the bear and relocate it to a more appropriate habitat.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has more information on black bears and bear encounters here

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KYW Newsradio's Tim Jimenez, Molly Daly and Mark Abrams contributed to this report.