Bear spotted in York County neighborhoods: 'It is more afraid of us'

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

Calls have been pouring in to West Manchester Township Police about a black bear spotted west of the station, Chief John C. Snyder said Monday.

Snyder said officers fielded reports about the bear all weekend, with one spotting around 10 a.m. Monday near UPMC Memorial Hospital on Innovation Drive.

He stressed that the public should call 911 and leave the bear alone if they cross its path.

“It is more afraid of us than we are it,” he said. 

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Snyder said the bear is likely a juvenile recently separated from its mother and is hungry.

"We have a missing chicken," he said, noting that at one point the bear was spotted with a chicken of unknown origin.

State Game Warden Cameron Murphy said he first heard about the bear Sunday, after it was seen crossing Route 30. Murphy set a bear trap at a house Monday morning where the bear reportedly broke into a chicken coop.

The birds, however, were fine.

If the bear is caught in a trap, Murphy said, it will be relocated upstate. By Monday, his office had fielded six calls about the wandering animal.

He added that the outskirts of York City is not a good place for bears to live.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, bears will eat human food, garbage, livestock feed and more. When a bear finds a food source, the bear will return until the food runs out.

A bear runs in a backyard Sunday in West Manchester Township near the Frito-Lay facility. (Submitted photo)

Every time a bear returns to that source, the commission noted in an advisory to the public, it can gradually lose its fear of people and become bolder when looking for new food sources. The less afraid the bear is, the greater risk of the bear being hit by a car or becoming a serious nuisance. 

"A persistent bear may damage property, increase the risk of human injury, or become an unwanted visitor in other parts of the neighborhood," according to the commission's website. 

Snyder said police will not cancel any events because of the bear. 

Residents do not have “anything much to worry about,” Murphy said. If it was a mother bear and her cubs, the situation would be significantly more dangerous, he said.

Murphy recommended securing beehives and chicken coops until the situation is resolved.  

One resident, Joseph Gothie, who lives near UPMC Memorial Hospital, suspects some recent damage to his property was caused by the bear. He noticed one of his suet feeders was pulled down Sunday night and another was down Monday evening.  

“That’s pretty unusual for where these are and the timing is curious,” he wrote in an email to The York Dispatch. 

He also found a bin of corn turned over and two paw prints in his yard. One paw print was near a pile of wood ashes and another was in mud. He wrote that a spot of blood was on a wood plank near one of the paw prints, and his neighbor also found scratch marks on a nearby tree.  

He wondered if the bear was the culprit.  

Gothie wrote that he had not seen the bear yet but had noticed that the bear must have walked through the yard multiple times since it last rained.  

Doug Eash, an emergency medical technician with Grantly EMS 89 posted Monday morning on Life in West Manchester Township, York County PA Facebook group the bear was spotted near Shiloh.