The quest to capture a hungry bear roaming the woods in one Chester County town was wearing on for days. Cops in Valley Township were urging residents not to go looking for the bear, and to keep garage doors closed, lest it go foraging in there too.
It turns out that stale leftovers from a nearby Dunkin' Donuts were key - a bear necessity, if you will - in finally baiting the bear into a cage this week, police Chief Brian Newhall said.
The bear was first spotted Thursday, and police spent the following days gathering residents' reports of sightings and damaged bird feeders, and plotting them on a map, to best guess where the bear would be.
The department announced the Monday night capture in a pun-laden Facebook post Tuesday. Workers from the Pennsylvania Game Commission told Newhall that before the capture, they'd need to run to Dunkin'. They didn't ask if he wanted anything, either; they just needed plenty of donuts.
“I said OK you’re screwing with me, and they said no really, they’re sweet and apparently they have an odor to them" that the bear could smell.
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The National Park Service says bears can smell food from 1-2 miles away, or an even longer distance with the right winds. Conservatively, a bear's sense of smell is 2,000 times more fine-tuned than a human's.
On Monday, after the bear was spotted emerging from woods near the Route 30 bypass, cops shooed it back from the road while keeping onlookers away from danger.
"We didn’t go after the bear, we went after the humans," Newhall said. They were also concerned that the bear was in distress because it was breathing heavily with its mouth open - later they learned that the bear was panting to cool down, just like a dog does.
"When you're wearing all that fur, it gets pretty hot," Newhall added.
Game Commission workers went deep into the woods and placed the donut bait around 7 p.m. - and the bear had his fill by 9:45 p.m.
"The bear was not harmed and no humans were injured, but the donuts didn't make it," the police wrote on Facebook.
He was later transported up north to a wooded area near Sunbury, PA, east of State College.
South Jersey bear
A bear in South Jersey has been spotted all over the tree-filled areas of Williamstown and Washington Township, Gloucester County recently. Last week, an NBC10 photographer saw a bear running from yard to yard in nearby Deptford. Washington Township police have documented sightings on their Facebook page, including multiple photos of the bear nabbing someone's bird feeder for a snack.
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife says bears are mostly in the northwestern part of the state, but have been seen in all 21 counties.