Wandering bear gets attention in Sugarcreek

(Submitted by Mitchell Thurau)
Sugarcreek Borough police were apparently able to get a stray black bear to head back into the woods near Rocky Grove Avenue after they responded to a series of calls from concerned residents Tuesday afternoon.

The bear was seen wandering for nearly an hour through yards near the 200 block of Rocky Grove Avenue just up the road from Country Fair.

Police chief Matt Carlson and his officers tried to push the bear away from the residential area with their cars, guiding it back to the woods.

Carlson said bears are skittish by nature.

“They actually don’t want contact with us at all but they are still looking for food,” he said.

Carlson called the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and officials there said they wouldn’t become involved unless the bear proved to be a problem or nuisance.

Problem bears will consistently wander through residential areas searching for food. They may root through garbage, antagonize household pets and get at hanging bird feeders.

In the case a bear would become a problem, the game commission would send a conservation officer to set a trap. Setting the trap usually involves a large section of culvert pipe attached to a two-wheeled trailer with a switch-activated door designed to trap the bear inside the pipe.

This is usually done by baiting the pipe with sweets such as donuts. When the bear goes for the sweets, the switch is activated.

Sugarcreek police tried to cut the animal off with their vehicles and herd it back into the forest.

“We must have succeeded because no one else has called yet,” he said.

Black bears are fairly common in Pennsylvania with anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 living in the state.

“It’s not like it’s something new,” Carlson said. “We may go a year and get three bear calls and we may go five years and get no phone calls.”

This is the second incident in the last few weeks, according to Carlson.

“We had one on Shaffer Run Road,” he said. “The bear actually tore the door off of a wooden shed to get at the 55-gallon garbage cans full of bird seed.”