Gilpin black bear becoming a frequent visitor

August 6, 2018

Gilpin residents have been seeing an unlikely neighbor lately -- a black bear.

Gilpin Police Chief Lee Schumaker said he’s received a few calls about the bear, which has been spotted near the township’s fire hall and in some residential areas.

“They’ve been there for years,” Schumaker said.

He said no one has been injured and the bear hasn’t posed any threat besides searching for food left outside.

Schumaker said residents should avoid setting trash outside and to keep an eye on any outside feeders the bears may be attracted to.

“They love all that stuff -- anything sugary, they love,” he said.

Schumaker said if he continues to get calls about the bear and it seems like a nuisance, he’ll call the Pennsylvania Game Commission. But it hasn’t reached that level of concern yet.

“They’re just as afraid of you as you are of them,” he said.

The latest resident to “host” the bear was Joyce Hanz at her small farm in Gilpin.

The bear paid her an afternoon visit Wednesday to snack at her bird feeder. After lapping up some bird seed, the bear helped itself to suet Hanz had out, flicking it off of the feeder and carrying it away before lounging in Hanz’s yard to nosh on it.

Hanz got a few minutes of video of the bear eating her bird food but said the bear was on her property for almost 20 minutes in total.

Hanz said she was more thrilled than afraid of the bear but worries that other residents not used to seeing bears may try to confront it in an effort to scare it away.

Game commission: Don’t feed the bears

That is a course of action the game commission strongly warns against since bears that feel threatened quickly can turn dangerous.

The game commission’s website says about 20,000 bears live in the state and they can live up to 25 years in the wild.

The website also says bears are most active at dusk and dawn. During late summer and fall, black bears may eat up to 20 hours a day to fatten up for winter hibernation.

The website warns residents that intentionally feeding bears is against the law in Pennsylvania. It is also against the law to put out any feed, for any wildlife, that causes bears to congregate or habituate to an area.

Residents who live in an area where a bear has been spotted should remove all available food to prevent the bear from coming back, the website says.

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