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Columnist: Public, Police, Need Bear Education

Newspaper's outdoor writer uses Easton bear incident as example.

The sighting -- in downtown Easton last week raises a few questions, Wilkes-Barre outdoors columnist Tom Venesky wrote Sunday.

"With bears expanding both in number and range, perhaps municipal police departments should be trained in how to handle situations such as the one in Easton," wrote Venesky, of the Times-Leader newspaper.

The situation he refers to happened May 20, when a bear wandered into the city, and was ultimately shot and killed by Easton police.

Police Chief Carl Scalzo has said officers made every effort to keep from killing the bear, telling the public was a last resort measure.

Venesky's column also argues the public should be educated about bears as well, and "and taught to not overreact when a bear passes through their town or neighborhood."

He concludes by noting the "decision by police to shoot the Easton bear wasn’t easy. It’s a tough spot to be in when you’re charged with protecting the public but don’t know when a wild animal poses a threat."

The shooting was a controversial issue on our site, with readers divided on the police's decision.

Lorraina J Telepo May 28, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I'm sorry, but, wild animals and domestic animals can be unpredictable, they are animals, this bear could not get a permit of consent to enter the city, realistically speaking. I still honor the decison of our police, why, does anyone remember the moose years back that crashed into the show window of Marie's Dance Studio, ouch, thanks goodness that was not more tragic than that, there could have been a person standing inside the window. It is incidents like this that need to be taken into account, only the people that were there have the pen in their hand that writes this bear story. Trust me, this is coming from an animal lover, perhaps, too much so, but, the long and short of it is, we are paying the police to police and protect. If this would have become a fatal or tragic endings, goodness knows what would be written then, I suggest giving this a rest already and allow the pollce to get back being the police, gosh, when something happens, everyone becomes a policeman, unreal!
Rita Chesterton May 28, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Just wondering, Lorraina, if there was an explanation for the non-use of a tranquilizer gun? Since we humans have confiscated a goodly portion of the bears' living space, it seems only fair (whenever possible) to make an effort to debilitate the animal and move it back into its natural habitat. DEP Tranquilizing Teams, consisting of Environmental Conservation Police officers and wildlife biologists, are trained and equipped to immobilize wildlife. http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=8074699
Rita Chesterton May 28, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I had not yet read the details of this bear story until just now....and I really have to wonder if there isn't room for improvement in bear management in Easton! especially considering its close location to forests and mountains and rivers. Why did the Game Commission Officer not do his job? Police Chief Scalzo said he personally listened to tapes of the conversations of county dispatch with the game commission, and the game commission officer on-duty refused the city's requests for both handling assistance and tranquilizing the bear. This is an outrage. Wandering bears will not wait while we try to clear bureaucratic log jams. The 'path to tranquilizers' needs to be easier and more immediate... for the sake of residents and for the sake of innocent bears.
Cecelia Merchant May 29, 2012 at 01:17 PM
The word is contrOversial, not contrAversial.
Rita Chesterton May 29, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Cecelia.... best to identify the location of the error... so the person can correct it.

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