Bear that attacked young children caught and euthanized, officials say

MOUNTAIN TOP, Pa. — Authorities say a bear that attacked and injured two young children playing in the driveway of a northeastern Pennsylvania home has been captured and euthanized.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission said Friday that two bears, a male and a female, had been caught overnight in live traps set following Monday’s attack in Wright Township near Mountain Top. A 5-year-old and a 14-month-old were treated for bites and scratches at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and released.

Game commission officials said DNA tests on the children’s clothing were compared with samples collected Friday morning from the trapped bears and indicated the female bear was responsible for the attack. That bear was euthanized and the male bear was relocated to a more remote area, officials said.

Officials said bear attacks in Pennsylvania are extremely rare, but when they do occur the bears are captured and euthanized as “a precaution against further attacks.” Euthanasia is also the only way to test a bear for rabies, which addresses concerns about further public health risk and may spare victims of an attack the necessity of getting rabies treatment.

The game commission says Pennsylvania’s once-beleaguered bear population is now prospering to the point where there are about 15,000 bears in the commonwealth “with bear hunting opportunities in most counties.” And although there are thousands of encounters between black bears and people, overall few conflicts arise, the commission said.

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