After a pursuit that lasted more than 24 hours, the black bear seen roaming throughout northwest Lancaster city and southern Manheim Township was tranquilized and captured by Pennsylvania Game Commission wardens on Thursday morning.

The final spot? A tree at a residence on West Chestnut Street in the city.

The bear had spent the day prior wandering around the area. It was spotted near State Street, Landis Avenue, Franklin & Marshall College’s Baker Campus, the Villa Nova restaurant in Lancaster city and eventually near Wegmans in Manheim Township. Game wardens followed the reports of the black bear but didn’t find it.

Late Wednesday, about 11 p.m., the bear was spotted in a tree in front of 819 Columbia Ave. in Lancaster city. Game Commission wardens were quick to respond, along with Lancaster Fire Department crews.

Wildlife conservation officers from the Game Commission fired several tranquilizers at the bear, but it managed to escape and took off toward Lancaster Township in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Then shortly before 7 a.m., the bear scampered up a tree in the backyard of a residence on West Chestnut Street. This time, wardens managed to subdue the bear, capture and tag it. 

LNP followed up with the Game Commission with a few questions about what's next for the bear.


Where is the bear going?

After an eventful couple of days, the black bear is headed to northern Dauphin County, said Dustin Stoner, information and education supervisor of the Game Commission. 

Northern Dauphin County has two very large game lands, Stoner said, and the bear will probably be released in one of those areas. 

How big is the bear?

Wildlife Conservation Officer Greg Graham said the bear was approximately 1 1/2 years old. 

Brian Sheetz, another game warden, weighed the bear after it had fallen from the tree. He said the bear weighed about 138 pounds, which Stoner said is the typical size for a bear that age. 

Why was the bear tagged?

Stoner said one of the duties of a wildlife management organization such as the Pennsylvania Game Commission is to estimate the population – and population trends – of wildlife. 

One way the Game Commission keep tabs on the black bear population is to tag or tattoo black bears after they are captured.

According to a 2018 estimate made by the Game Commission, Pennsylvania is home to 18,000 to 20,000 black bears. 

Tagging the bears is also helpful to gauge how many bears are killed during hunting seasons. Stoner said hunters are required by state law to present the bear to a Game Commission check-in station within 24 hours of killing the bear. 

By doing so, the Game Commission is able to estimate how many bears are still populating the state. 

Click here for bear hunting season details. 

How many bears have been spotted in Lancaster County this year?

While Stoner didn't have an accurate number on how many bears have been spotted in Lancaster County this year, he said he doesn't often get reports from the area. 

Black bears are not local to Lancaster County, he said. Black bears are typically found farther north – in Lebanon, Berks, Schuylkill and Dauphin counties. 

But a bear could possibly make a living in Lancaster County, Stoner said, if it found enough food. 

"Their gut and caloric needs" are what guide black bears, he said. 

Bears wandering into densely-populated areas are becoming more common as the bear population is growing. 

According to Stoner, the growth of the black bear population can be attributed to the increasing quality of black bear habitats. More food sources are also available, he said. 

And, he said, most bear hunters haven't had much luck in previous seasons. 

Why was the bear caught using tranquilizers and not a trap?

When attempting to capture a bear, the Game Commission can lure the bear into a trap or tranquilize it and move it into the trap. 

Stoner said the bear in Lancaster city was tranquilized because of the large number of people nearby. 

"If there are people nearby, the bear is less likely to go into the trap," he said. 

Additionally, there was more urgency to trap the bear, Stoner said, as it could wander out into heavily-traveled roads. 

If the bear was found in a more rural area, the Game Commission would likely use a trap instead. 

Stoner said game wardens often lure black bears into traps by leaving food — often leftovers from local grocery stores, such as day-old doughnuts or cookies. 

"Bears have a sweet tooth," he said. 


For previous black bear and outdoors coverage from LNP/LancasterOnline: 

Think you know a lot about Pennsylvania's black bears? Take this quiz and prove it
Elizabethtown boy, 12, gets bear, among 2,579 taken in Pennsylvania's regular season
Bear caught on camera near Bainbridge, Lancaster County
550-pound black bear, largest ever recorded in Lancaster County, captured near Leola after anxious moments
Hunters take 1,993 bears in 4-day gun season, 9th-highest on record