Bear Captured in Doylestown's Maplewood
A second bear was spotted Thursday in Doylestown Township; police think it was heading toward the Pine Run reservoir.
A regular evening of Doylestown baseball was interrupted Wednesday night by an unexpected visitor.
The Athletics were playing the Nationals on the baseball fields at Veterans Memorial Park in Maplewood, when the parents and other fans in the stands were startled by an interloper.
"All of a sudden, someone screams out, 'Look! Bear!,' " said Anne Drouin-Hasegawa. "It was a surreal thing. You look up and see a bear next to an SUV. It kind of blows your mind."
Drouin-Hasegawa had gone to the game to watch her 12-year-old son, Max, play ball. She hadn't expected to get an up close and personal lesson in suburban wildlife.
The fans spotted the black bear near the cars at the ball field. Several in the crowd instantly whipped out their cell phones and called the police, Drouin-Hasegawa said.
The bear ambled off before the police arrived, Drouin-Hasegawa said. It was in no hurry and was not acting aggressive in any way, she said Thursday.
"He was very Winnie-the-Pooh-like in his behavior," she said. "He had that slow, lumbering look to him. He was pretty gorgeous."
After a few minutes, the ballgame resumed. But the bear drama wasn't over.
The bear shuffled further into Doylestown's Maplewood section, a tidy neighborhood of middle-class homes built after World War II with streets named for Doylestown boys who had died in the war.
As the bear moved, so did the news of its journey.
"I was trying to finish a job, but instead, I kept running from window to window, to see where the bear was," said Doylestown illustrator Pat Achilles, whose home overlooks the ball fields.
When the Doylestown Borough police arrived, the bear was on Stryker Avenue. Police Chief Jim Donnelly said Thursday that two officers followed the bear and were able to herd it to the corner of a backyard in the 600 block.
There, the bear hid in the brush in the corner between a shed and the fence. Police officers kept it at bay until representatives from the Pennsylvania Game Commission arrived.
Rick Macklem is the game commission officer for Bucks County from Plumstead down to Bristol. He was in Newtown on another call when he got the phone call from Doylestown police.
By the time Macklem got to Maplewood around 8:40 p.m., the bear still was hiding in the corner of the backyard on Stryker.
A few minutes later, John Papson, the conservation officer based in Quakertown, arrived with a live bear trap.
"Once we tranquilized him, we needed a way to get him out of there," said Macklem, who lives in Buckingham Township.
Macklem then shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart. It flew straight and true, a clean shot. But the bear wasn't done. He managed to climb over a 4-foot fence into the neighboring yard, Macklem said.
"When they’re young like that and their adrenaline’s pumping, it takes awhile for the drug to take effect," he said.
Another 10 minutes ticked by before the bear passed out, Macklem said.
Then came the heavy lifting.
Assessing the Bear's Health
The conservation officers dragged the unconscious bear out and rolled him onto a military stretcher, Macklem said. Then they and the police officers carried the stretcher out to the street, where the trailer with the live bear trap was parked.
There, Macklem measured the bear around the chest. He logged in at 38 inches, which Macklem estimates makes him about 198 pounds. The young male bear is probably about 1.5 to 2 years old, he estimated.
After the neighbors and police officers took pictures of the unconscious bear - "It’s not something they get to see every day," Macklem said - the conservation officers slid the bear-filled stretcher into the live bear trap. A little roll to the side, and the bear was safely deposited into the trap, which Macklem described as "basically a big culvert pipe with a door in one end and holes punched in it for light and air."
On Thursday morning, Macklem drove the bear north and released him on state game lands in Schuylkill County. There's no danger that the young male bear left relatives behind, he said.
"That's why he was out there in the first place," the conservation officer said. "His mom probably kicked him loose, and he’s just wandering around, looking for his own territory. He just ended up in the wrong part of town."
Bear sightings in Central and Upper Bucks County are not uncommon, especially in the more rural parts of townships.
In fact, a second bear was spotted Thursday morning around Lenape Middle School, said Doylestown Township Police Chief Dean Logan.
"Then we believe it made its way over toward Sandy Ridge," Logan said. "It looked like it was heading toward the (Pine Run) reservoir."
Logan said his officers would keep an eye on the bear as long as possible and call the game commission if they thought it could be tranquilized and removed.
Pennsylvania's black bear population has grown substantially from around 4,000 in the 1970s to about 14,000 today, according to the state game commission. The animals now can be found living in 55 counties.
"Continued expansion of residential development into areas occupied by black bears and wandering young adult bears in search of a place to settle have resulted in more frequent sightings and encounters between people and bears," according to a recent report from the game commission on research into black bears in the suburbs.