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Young black bear finally captured in Lancaster; children get opportunity to touch, tag it

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — UPDATE (August 15): A young black bear climbs high into a tree in Lancaster as people watching nearby hold their breath. “It...
lancaster bear

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- UPDATE (August 15): A young black bear climbs high into a tree in Lancaster as people watching nearby hold their breath.

"It was scary!" said Hadley Schuller.

"I thought it was really crazy. When he hanged on, I was so terrified!" said Eric Haefner.

The bear believed to be a little more than a year old led authorities on a wild chase Wednesday; it avoided capture several times until a Game Waden managed to hit it with a tranquilizing agent on Thursday.

That tranquilizer sent the bear into a deep sleep, falling onto the ground which alarmed some onlookers.

"He's perfectly fine. Nothing happened to him. They can stand a pretty substantial fall," explained Brian Sheetz, Game Warden for the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission.

Sheetz made it a teachable moment for the people and children in the area.

"People of Lancaster never seen a bear in Lancaster before. It's something for them to see and learn. I don't want kids to be afraid," he said.

Sheetz allowed people to get up close and personal to the 138-pound bear.

Two little boys, who are celebrating their birthdays, even got to help tag the animal.

For many, it was a morning unlike any other on West Chestnut and South Mary Streets.

"We decided if it was a girl it was going to be named 'Mary', boy, he was going to be 'Chestnut'. He kept saying a he, so it looks like it's 'Chestnut!'" said Sarah Haefner.

The bear was taken to Northern Dauphin County where officials say it will be safer and happier.


The bear has been located at North Mary and West Chestnut Street in Lancaster.


The bear was spotted at about 9:58 p.m. Wednesday on the 800 block of Columbia Avenue after it climbed a tree in front of a home. The road was closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic while Lancaster Police and state Game Commission personnel responded.

There were several attempts made to tranquilize the bear, but the bear eventually got out of the tree around 3:20 a.m. Thursday and ran off without being apprehended.

It was spotted again around 6:30 a.m. on the 200 block of N.  Mary St., in the rear yard of a home there. Game Commission officials were unable to capture the bear right away because they needed to restock their supply of tranquilizing agent.

Wednesday's information

Officials are searching for a bear that has been spotted in Lancaster.

On August 14 around 7:00 a.m., police received a call that a black bear had been sighted in the area of the 800 block State Street.

After being spotted numerous other spots, an officer was able to snap a photo of the bear on Landis Avenue.

Officials are still searching for the bear.

Below are tips if you were to encounter a bear:


Bear attacks are extremely rare, especially considering how often people encounter them. In most cases, a bear will detect you first and leave the area long before you'll ever see it. However, if you do meet a bear before it's had time to leave, here are some suggestions. Every bear encounter is different.

Alert the bear — If you see a bear, make some noise to alert the bear of your presence, giving it ample time and space to turn and leave. Avoid being caught up in the excitement of seeing a bear and inadvertently letting the bear get too close before surprising it.

Get back — If you have a close encounter, back away slowly while facing the bear so you always know where the bear is and how its reacting. Wild bears rarely attack people. Slowly backing away diffuses the situation and gives the bear room to flee.

Stay calm — encountering a bear can be startling, but try to remain calm. While moving away, avoid sudden movements and talk to help the bear keep track of your retreat. Don’t turn and run or attempt to climb a tree. Running may prompt the bear to give chase, and climbing a tree could be interpreted as a threat to any cubs that are present since cubs often climb trees when startled. Move toward your camper, house or vehicle if nearby.

Pay attention — Bears will use all of their senses to figure out what you are. If they recognize you as a person, some may stand upright or move closer in their efforts to detect odors in the air currents. Don't consider this a sign of aggression. Once a bear identifies you, it will usually leave. If it begins to slowly approach you, face the bear, wave your arms wildly and shout while continuing to back away. The idea is to intimidate the bear into retreating. Swing a stick, your backpack or whatever is handy if the bear gets close. If suddenly surprised, some bears may feel threatened and give warning signs that they are uncomfortable. They may clack their jaws together or sway their head; those are signs for you to leave. Some bears have been known to charge to within a few feet when threatened. If this occurs, wave your arms wildly and shout at the bear.

Fight back — Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear attacks, fight back. Bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks, binoculars and even their bare hands. Contact Information for the Game Commission can be found on their webpage on the link posted above.

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