AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

July 19, 2013

Black bear takes holiday jaunt in Grove City

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — A black bear wanted to get into some Fourth of July fun in Grove City - but police and a local resident weren't too keen on having the furry guest around.

April Kisamore, of 163 Campbell Drive, emailed Allied News photos of a black bear her 18-year-old son, Mickey, took on Thursday.

Around 8:30 p.m., Kisamore was walking on Campbell with her dog, Trixie, a 40-pound springer spaniel mix, which first spotted the black bear.

"She started growling at something" in the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV parking lot on Maple Drive, said Kisamore, who then spotted the bear in the lot "sniffing around."

Kismore, who works in payroll for the IU IV, hurried to walk toward her home, and the bear began to walk through her back yard.

"I had my phone and called my son to take the pictures. I didn't want to get too close and my dog was growling and I didn't want to get in a confrontation with him."

Kisamore was scared, as it was the second time she saw a black bear in town in less than two months.

The last time, she and her husband, Vince, were "out for a morning walk" when they spotted a bear on the patio at Grove City College's president's house near the entrance of the school along East Main Street, she said.

"It was walking down the steps," Kisamore said, then it changed direction after seeing her and her husband, who next spotted it "at the bottom of Rainbow Bridge" on campus.

The couple didn't have their cell phones to take photographs that time, and Kisamore's been teased about her so-called bear sightings, she said, laughing. However, the college's surveillance system did catch the bear, she noted.

For this bear sighting she had instant proof, thanks to her son.

"My son's a hunter so things like that fascinate him. He came out of the house and followed it," Kisamore said. "In the meantime, I called 911. Especially on the Fourth of July, I was afraid the bear would get in contact with kids with fireworks."

Police came on the scene near the new middle school, near where the bear had walked, Kisamore said. Police then arrived at her home to look at the bear photos, she noted.

"They said they were trying to keep it away from all the people at the college (gathering to watch fireworks)," Kisamore said. "We usually sit in our backyard, because we have a good spot to watch fireworks, but we were a little nervous," she added, especially with grandchildren coming over to the house and barking dogs.

The Franklin regional office of the Pennsylvania Game Commission receives hundreds of calls about increased black bear sightings around June, said Regis Senko, information education supervisor.

The bears come out of their dens in March, and by early summer they begin to "establish their territory," he said. In the meantime, "It's not uncommon for them to whack every bird feeder (for food)."

Generally, the bears are young males. They have lived with their mothers for about 1½ years when the mother kicks them out of the house - so to speak - when she's in heat and ready to reproduce again, he said.

They may be young, but they can be as large as 150 pounds, Senko said. Often they are seen in residential areas, because "when they come into a territory with another male, they tend to get run off and wind up in places they're not familiar with" and get into residential garbage, grilles and pet food left outside, he said.

"The bear thinks the bird feeder is the bear feeder," Senko stated.

The commission will usually direct people to its website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), where a section on black bears is listed under its "Wildlife" tab. One pamphlet there has general facts about bears; another talks about human interaction with the black bears, he said.

The commission tells people to "try to coexist," he noted.

"We don't come and take away a bear every time they are in a bird feeder. If he's showing he's a persistent problem, and you've done everything you can but you're still having a problem, that's when you want to call us."

People definitely don't want to have a large, black bear as a long-term guest, Senko said.

"Bears aren't going to eat the kids," he said. "We have very few cases of aggression ... but they are a large animal and need to be respected."

He noted that black bear sightings begin to subside in July.

That's just as well for Kisamore, who realizes the bears are "more scared of us," she said, but after two encounters in the past month or so "I think I'm over it."

Published July 6, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.