UPDATE: The black bear was captured and tagged by Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officers on Thursday morning in Lancaster city. Click here to find out more and what happens next for the bear.
Spotted in and around Lancaster on Wednesday, from State Street in the morning to a tree on Columbia Avenue at night, the bear is a rarity for the area, according to Dustin Stoner, information and education supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The bear, according to reports, forged its path by the Villa Nova restaurant, Baker Campus on the Franklin & Marshall campus and near State Street in the city. The bear was last reported near Wegmans on the Harrisburg Pike in Manheim Township.
LNP spoke with Stoner and asked several questions about black bears and safety.
I spotted a bear; now what?
Stoner advised Lancaster residents to stay away from the bear.
"Keep a safe distance," Stoner said. "Do not try to approach the bear."
And do not try to feed the bear, he said, as it will only attract it and possibly keep the bear in the area.
Stoner also recommended removing bird feeders, pet food and exposed garbage from your property.
Should I be worried? Will the bear attack?
Black bears in Pennsylvania are not a predatory concern for people, Stoner said.
Unless the bear is startled or provoked, it shouldn't attempt to attack a human, he said.
Dogs and cats should be safe, too, Stoner said, as long as they don't provoke the bear.
Occasionally, black bears will go after chickens or rabbits, but Lancaster residents shouldn't be too worried, he said.
If residents are sure to remove bird feeders, pet food and exposed garbage, they should be safe, Stoner said.
The bear will likely be wary of people, he said.
Should I call someone to report the bear sighting?
Yes. Call the game commission first at 1-888-PGC-8001. You can also call local police.
Is this normal?
"It's uncommon for bears to be in the city of Lancaster," Stoner said.
Stoner said it was likely that the bear hasn't established a territory yet.
"The bear has no place to call home" and is searching for a suitable habitat, Stoner said.
Bears are typically located north of Harrisburg, he said. The bear most likely started wandering this way and eventually found itself in Lancaster, Stoner said.
He said the bear likely encountered the city and was "bewildered" by all of the people walking around.
The bear, panicked, tried to find a place to hide and made its way to a forested area behind Wegmans.
What will happen to the bear if its caught?
If the bear doesn't wander back to a "suitable" habitat on its own, and makes its way back into the city, game wardens will use a culvert trap to catch the bear. It will then be relocated to a more suitable area.
Before the bear is released, however, it will be tagged so that the game commission can estimate the bear population in the state.