Going bear-foot in Chadds Ford area

No lions or tigers, but there have been some bear sightings in the greater Chadds Ford area.

Television station 6ABC reported that a black bear was seen in the area of Texas Roadhouse on Route 1 in Concord Township last night. State police have not confirmed that sighting, but did confirm getting a call that a bear was seen near the Penn Oaks Country Club on Monday, May 16.

On Friday, May 13, a black bear was seen in the Wissahickon Valley State Park in Philadelphia.

Cheryl Trewella of the Pennsylvania Game Commission confirmed the Philadelphia sighting, but not the other two.

Trewlla said when she started with the commission 10 years ago, bears were not seen roaming here in the southeast part of the state. Now, however, she thinks that’s about to change.

She explained that Pennsylvania’s black bear population is “high,” about 20,000 in rural areas, and that high population forces some to move, looking for food and territory. That’s especially true when it comes to the younger males.

“This will bring them into contact with people,” she said.

In addition to the Pennsylvania population, bears are in New Jersey as well, and Trewella said some come into the state by swimming across the Delaware.

According to the Game Commission and other websites, black bears are fast and powerful. They can run up to 35 mph. They are wild, so do not approach one if you see it. While bear attacks are rare, stay calm if you see one.

The website has several pieces of information:

• If the bear sees you first, it will likely keep its distance. If you see the bear first, calmly leave the area, but talk so the bear will be aware of you.

• If there’s a close encounter, back away slowly while facing the bear, but avoid eye contact.

• Don’t climb or run.

• When safe, simply phone police or the Game Commission’s Southeast Office at 610-926-3136.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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