On Monday, May 22 a black bear attacked two children as they played in their driveway in Wright, Pennsylvania, a small township a half-hour southwest of Scranton. According to officials, the children—ages 5 and 14 months—were treated for bites and scratches at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital before being discharged.
“This is an unfortunate incident,” said Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) Bryan Burhans in a release published last Tuesday. “I’m relieved to hear their injuries aren’t severe.”
The May 23 press release included little information about the circumstances that triggered the attack, but the agency said the bear involved likely wasn’t prone to attacks on people. Regardless, PGC agents set multiple traps in the area, and on the night of May 26, they captured two bears—one male and one female. DNA samplings of both animals were sent to a nearby wildlife lab, and scientists there determined that the female bear was responsible for the attack. The sow was euthanized, and the boar was released, a subsequent press release issued Friday, May 26 states.
The PGC estimates that there are approximately 15,000 black bear in the Keystone State. They inhabit about 75 percent of the state and can be found in all 67 of its counties. Black bears typically range in size from 140 to 400 pounds, but individual boars can reach as much as 800 pounds.
With thousands of bear-human interactions occurring each year in Pennsylvania, the PGC advises residents and visitors to keep their distance from black bears. If encountering a bear, state officials say it’s important to make it aware of your presence by vocalizing calmly or waving. As black bears will often stand their ground and may pop their jaws or bluff a charge, people should always try to back away slowly. Children should be picked up during such encounters and not allowed to run away, as this can trigger a predatory response, the agency says.