Game Commission Continues to Investigate Bear Attack Involving Two Children
The children, ages 5 and 14 months, were treated for bites and/or scratches and released from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
There are few details about the incident or what might have provoked the attack, which occurred while the children were playing in the driveway of their home.
The Game Commission has set two bear traps in the area, and if a bear is caught, there is the potential through DNA testing to positively identify whether it is the same bear involved with the attack.
In general, Pennsylvania’s bears avoid contact with people and attacks are rare. When attacks do occur, it often involves a situation where a bear is cornered and not given an opportunity to flee, or is triggered by a dog confronting a bear, and the dog’s owner becoming involved.
The bear involved in Monday’s incident likely isn’t prone to attack. The attack more likely was triggered by some unknown circumstance. But if the bear involved in the attack is caught, it will be euthanized as a precaution.
Pennsylvanians are advised at all times to keep their distance from bears, which are strong and fast creatures. If encountering a bear, it’s important to let the bear know you’re there. Getting a bear’s attention by vocalizing or waving at it, often is enough to make it move off.
Bears sometimes stand their ground, and might employ more aggressive measures, like popping their jaws or bluffing a charge at a person, stopping short. But even in these types of cases, a bear usually will give a person the chance to back out of an encounter.
Bears have a natural fear of people, but they can lose some of that fear when living close to people, and especially if they’re fed. For this reason, it is unlawful in Pennsylvania to intentionally feed bears. But even without intentional feeding, bears can be drawn to properties where they can find an easy meal at a birdfeeder, by raiding compost bins or trash cans, or toppling a charred grill.
Those who live in bear country might consider removing these potential food sources from places where bears might get them, and where bears have been a problem recently, such items definitely should be removed.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said his thoughts are with the children injured in the attack.
“This is an unfortunate incident and I’m relieved to hear their injuries aren’t severe,” Burhans said.
Pennsylvania is home to about 15,000 bears, and thousands and thousands of encounters between black bears and people, and overall, few conflicts arise.
For more information about living safely and responsibly with bears, visit www.bearwise.org.
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