HARRISBURG, PA - The bear that attacked and injured two children in Luzerne County this week has been captured and euthanized.
Two bears – a male and a female – were caught overnight in live traps the Pennsylvania Game Commission set following a May 22 bear attack in Wright Township, near Mountain Top, that left a 5-year-old and 14-month-old with injuries.
Previously completed DNA testing on the clothes the children were wearing at the time of the attack had developed a profile for the bear in the attack. Samples collected Friday morning from the trapped bears immediately were taken to The Dr. Jane Huffman Wildlife Genetics Institute at East Stroudsburg University. Testing performed there concluded the trapped female bear indeed was the same one from the attack.
While bear attacks in Pennsylvania are extremely rare, when bears attack people and later are captured, they are euthanized to ensure public safety. That’s not to say a bear involved in an attack is prone to attack. Bear attacks many times are the product of a bear that is cornered and has no easy escape route. But euthanasia is a precaution against future attacks, as well as the only way to test the bear for rabies. If a bear tests negative for rabies, it relieves concerns the animal has caused further public health risk, and allows attack victims to possibly be spared rabies treatments.
“For more than 125 years, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has worked to protect and provide for the Commonwealth’s wildlife,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “With the agency’s guidance, the state’s once-beleaguered bear population recovered, prospering to the point we now have about 15,000 bears statewide, and bear hunting opportunities in most counties. Pennsylvania’s bear populations really couldn’t be doing better, and that will continue to be the case.
“While the agency doesn’t take lightly its duty to follow protocol to euthanize a bear involved in an attack, it also places great importance on ensuring public safety, and in this case we have fulfilled our responsibility through our actions.”
The male bear caught in the trap alongside the female has been relocated to a more remote area farther from the attack site.
If there are further updates in this matter, the Game Commission will issue another news release Tuesday afternoon.
MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541
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