A Pennsylvania black bear found itself the center of attention Wednesday afternoon.
At around noon yesterday, reports began coming in that a bear was meandering along Route 209 in Jim Thorpe, right past the intersection of Route 903. Heavy traffic scared the approximate 200-pound bear, who fled to the safety of a nearby tree.
Motorists began stopping along the busy highway to look at and photograph the bear, who was now about 40 feet off the ground.
Around 1 p.m., Jim Thorpe police arrived on scene to direct traffic and stop motorists from pulling onto the shoulder of the road to take photos.
Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joseph Schatz said that the Pennsylvania Game Commission was called in to handle the bear.
"Unfortunately, because of the heavy traffic and people stopping, the bear was afraid to come down on his own," Schatz said.
Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Cory Bentzoni arrived on scene shortly after police to handle the situation but discovered that because of the location of the tree, which was over a steep embankment, there was no safe way to get the bear down.
"We couldn't dart it because if it fell, it would have been seriously injured," Bentzoni said, adding that because of this, the waiting game for the bear to come down on his own began.
Police and Bentzoni stayed on scene, directing traffic and stopping people from pulling over on the shoulder until around 4:20 p.m., when officials saw the bear beginning to make his descent down the tree.
Traffic along Route 209 was blocked off in both directions until the bear reached the ground. Bentzoni then chased it over the embankment.
"The last time we saw it, it was down near the river," he said.