LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — While some people were counting votes Tuesday night, neighbors in a Midstate community were counting bears in their backyards.
At least four of them were spotted in Lower Paxton Township. One of them did the “stop, drop, and roll” right in front of the camera. One bear was caught sprinting through a yard, and one appeared to walk along the shadow of a fence as if it were on a balance beam. (You can watch that all in the video above.)
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The bears were spotted on Kensington Way in the Forest Hills development.
Neighbors think it was a mama bear and her cubs, which eventually wandered away without causing any damage.
The only bear species in Pennsylvania is black bears, explained Travis Lau, Pennsylvania Game Commission communications director. Lau says that while the bears usually are not aggressive and avoid confrontation with people, they are still fast and strong wild animals, and they should be respected.
According to the Game Commission’s website, black bear attacks are “extremely rare.”
“Almost all bear attacks in the state are triggered either by someone getting between an adult female bear and her cubs, or by a confrontation between a dog and a bear where the dog’s owner becomes involved, so people should try to avoid those particular scenarios,” Lau said in an email.
If a bear wanders into your yard while you are inside, Lau says the bear poses very little danger to you and will eventually move on.
“In most cases, a bear in your yard is either passing through or it has been attracted by some ‘food’ source, like a birdfeeder, gas grill, or household trash,” Lau said in an email. In places where bears are common, residents may want to remove these objects from their yards to avoid problems.
If you encounter a black bear outdoors, Lau says you should let the bear know you’re there by talking to it or waving, and it will usually leave once it sees you. If it doesn’t leave right away, you may need to shout more aggressively to scare it away, Lau says.
If the bear stands its ground, it probably wants you to leave, Lau says, and it may give clues like popping its jaws and bluffing a charge at you to get you to go away. If that happens, Lau says you should back away slowly and calmly, but never run away or climb a tree because the bear might interpret that behavior as a threat.