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Bears, bears, everywhere: Game commission is seeing an increase in the population in Carbon County

It may appear that there are more bears roaming residential neighborhoods in Carbon County. That’s because there are.

“Here in Carbon County I have been receiving calls for bear at a rate of about two to three per day,” Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Cory Bentzoni said. “With one officer and a limited number of traps, it is impossible to deal with them all.”

Bentzoni was in Penn Forest Township on Tuesday to remove and examine a male bear trapped overnight. The Game Commission traps hundreds of bears each year for research purposes.

The trapped bear was injected with a dissociative drug through a syringe that is inserted through holes in the trap. The drug disrupts the brain’s ability to control its body, but the bear is not asleep. Once the drug took effect, the bear was measured, a tooth pulled and the overall health checked.

Before even administering the drug, Bentzoni noticed, while the bear was still in the trap, that he was missing an ear, which Bentzoni believes happened in a fight with another bear.

Bentzoni explained that bears don’t sweat like humans, and they cool themselves off by panting. Because it was hot Tuesday and because the bear couldn’t pant due to the drug, the bear’s feet were iced down and water was sprayed on him during the process.

“The population here in Carbon County has been increasing every year. The population at this time is at an all-time high, and the most effective method to control of these animals is hunting,” Bentzoni said.

“I have been working with my biologist to increase hunting opportunities for hunters here in Carbon, and hopefully assist with the issues of human-bear conflicts that are continuing to rise in numbers every year.”

The bear caught Tuesday stumbled back into the woods about a half-hour after receiving a dose to counteract the dissociative drug.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Cory Bentzoni touches the foot of a 350-pound male black bear, trying to get it to move into the shade after being trapped in Penn Forest Township on Tuesday.
Bruce Knick of the State gamelands habitat management crew attaches an ear tag to a male bear trapped in Penn Forest Township.
Greg Borger of the State gamelands habitat management crew examines a male black bear’s teeth Tuesday morning.
A male black bear looks out of a trap in Penn Forest Township on Tuesday morning.
A bear estimated at around 350 pounds is cooled off by a spray of water Tuesday morning in Penn Forest Township after being trapped and examined for research purposes. The bear’s left ear was missing, most likely from fighting with another bear.