TRR photos by Sandy Long

“Garbage bear” is a term used to refer to bears who develop the practice of raiding garbage cans. Some bears follow established collection routes that can range for miles. Making filled garbage cans accessible to bears encourages them to enter yards and properties, putting them into closer proximity to the humans who live there. Reduce your risk—and discourage a bear from developing this behavior—by storing cans where bears cannot access them. Place the cans along roadways as close as possible to the time specified for pickup. 

Careful co-existence

Many of us live in the Upper Delaware River region partly for the opportunity to experience the abundant and amazing wildlife sharing the forests and waters of this majestic place. Most of the time, wildlife encounters are thrilling and positive experiences, but as human populations increase, wild habitats tend to decrease, creating more possibilities for problematic situations.

One recent and unusual encounter occurred in Lycoming County, PA, this December, when a woman was attacked and severely injured by a black bear.

The PA Game Commission (PGC) has been conducting an investigation and issued a press release that said, “While black-bear attacks on humans are rare in Pennsylvania, and there’s nothing to suggest the same bear will attack again, out of an abundance of caution, the bear will be euthanized if trapped or located.”

Game Commission black-bear biologist Mark Ternent added a bit more information to the situation.

“While black bears are strong and powerful animals that always should be respected, they generally are passive and pose little threat to people,” Ternent said. “Most injuries from bears can be explained by human activities such as feeding or accidentally surprising a habituated bear in close quarters.”

So far, the investigation has revealed that “the bear had cubs by its side, and the victim was attacked as she attempted to retrieve her dog, which had run toward the bears.”

Reducing the risk for such tragic encounters is crucial for both the humans and the animals involved. The PGC and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provide helpful information and resources about this important issue on their websites.

Visit or to learn more.


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