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Bear leads police officers on chase through Williamsport

July 01, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

WILLIAMSPORT -- A police officer used a glazed doughnut to lure a black bear from a tree in Williamsport early Monday.

The bear ran and wandered through town for about two hours before being chased into a wooded area at about 9:30 a.m.

Law enforcement began receiving reports of a black bear, with the first sighting at about 7:50 a.m. near the fishing pond at the C&O Canal in Williamsport, Washington County Sheriff's Department Detective 1st Class Tom Routzahn said.

The bear, which Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists said appeared to be a male about 18 months old and weighing 120 to 130 pounds, ran through town before climbing a tree at the intersection of Artizan Street and East Salisbury Street, Routzahn said.

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When an officer threw a glazed doughnut on the ground to tempt the bear, it came down from the tree, ate the doughnut and ran across Potomac Street. Deputies followed, some in cruisers and others carrying shotguns as they ran through the streets of Williamsport.

The bear ran through backyards along Artizan Street and eventually made it to a wooded area behind Williamsport Retirement Village on North Artizan Street.

Deputies broke off the chase after DNR biologists assured them the bear was seeking water and would return to where he came from, Routzahn said.

"They said once it got into a wooded area, it was no threat," Routzahn said.

Jeff Gouker and Randy Smith were paving Moose Lodge Alley in Williamsport when the black bear came running toward them. The bear turned and ran through someone's backyard off Artizan Street before it reached them, the men said.

Gouker described the bear as "medium size" and called it "pretty cute."

Betsy Deal said she has lived in Williamsport for 43 years and has never seen a bear. Her son spotted the bear Monday as it ran up a hill to the woods behind the retirement village.

Wayne Dixon was out for a walk Monday morning when a neighbor told him a bear was on the loose, he said. He followed the chase, but he never saw the bear.

"I wanted to make sure they took care of it in a humane way," Dixon said.

Throughout the pursuit, it was obvious that the sheriff's department was treating the bear humanely, Dixon said.

Based on the bear's age and that it was a male, it probably recently left its mother's home range and was looking for a new home range, said Robert Beyer, associate director of wildlife and heritage for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

"All he's doing is trying to find a new home," Beyer said.

Beyer advised anyone who sees a bear to enjoy the sight, because they are rarely seen by humans, but to keep their distance and to not sneak up on the bear.

If you see a bear ...



Don't approach it, and don't sneak up on it. Call police, who can get in touch with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said Robert Beyer, associate director of wildlife and heritage for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

If you are approached by a black bear, stand up tall, back away slowly and yell in a strong voice, Beyer said. Make as much noise as possible, he advised.

The same holds true if you encounter a female black bear and her cubs. However, if you get between a mother and her cubs, get out from between them as soon as possible but not quickly, Beyer said.

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