Two Pennsylvania siblings, ages 5 and 14 months, found themselves in a dangerous encounter with a black bear on Monday as they played in the driveway of their eastern Pennsylvania home.
The harrowing event left the children with non-life-threatening injuries from bites and scratches, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. After receiving treatment at the nearby Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, the children were discharged, having fortunately escaped more serious harm.
The commission is keen to establish the full dynamics of the encounter, which unfolded in Wright Township, close to the children’s residence. An ongoing inquiry aims to determine whether the bear was provoked prior to the attack.
Bryan Burhans, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, expressed his relief about the children’s injuries not being severe in an official statement. The unsettling incident, however, necessitates a hunt for the black bear in question.
The commission has deployed two bear traps in the surrounding area with the intention of capturing the creature. Should a bear be captured, DNA testing will be performed to establish if it’s the same bear that injured the children. Any positive match will unfortunately lead to the bear’s euthanization for public safety.
Despite the daunting nature of this incident, officials reassure that black bears, numbering around 15,000 in the state, are not typically a threat to humans and usually avoid human contact.
Bear attacks are notably rare and often occur when the animal feels cornered with no escape route, or when a dog confrontation spirals into a human encounter.
The commission is considering Monday’s incident as likely instigated by an unforeseen factor, given the natural disposition of bears to fear humans. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania has strict laws to prevent the intentional feeding of bears, and warnings against leaving discarded food in trash accessible to these creatures.
The Game Commission warns that bears can lose their natural fear when habituated to human proximity, particularly if they learn to associate human settlements with easy access to food.
This incident follows a previous one from 2018 when a Pennsylvania woman was dragged more than 80 yards into the woods by a black bear, managing to escape with her life from a backyard encounter turned nightmare.