CLAYSBURG - Police acted appropriately when they killed a bear Tuesday night on Bedford Street, a state Game Commission spokesman said Friday.
"We will not second-guess the actions taken to protect public health and safety," spokesman Jerry Feaser said.
With the state's findings, the matter is closed, Greenfield Township Police Chief Ron Givler said.
"They have a split second to make a decision - whether the public agrees with it or not," Givler said. "Our bottom line is to protect the health, welfare and safety of our community - and that was done. No lives were lost. No one was injured."
The facts, Feaser said, include the following:
n The size of the crowd made it difficult for police to keep bystanders back far enough.
n The tranquilizer dart used on the bear had no immediate effect.
n The bear acted in an aggressive manner.
After it was shot by the tranquilizer dart, the bear got down from the tree and started running, Feaser said.
"As a bear can run up to 30 mph, there is little doubt that, when the bear turned and began displaying aggressive actions [facing the crowd, snapping its jaws], had the officers not taken decisive action, the bear could have covered the distance between its position and the crowd in less than five seconds," Feaser said. "Once the bear was struck with the first round, it was important to put the bear down rather than risk having a wounded bear get away or charge the crowd."
Between 150 and 200 people showed up to watch the unfolding incident, police and witnesses said.
The bear had been chased into Claysburg by a pickup truck full of men.
The crowd exacerbated the situation by failing to obey lawful orders to leave the area, Givler said.
"The outcome probably would have been different if the crowd would have listened to the officers," he said.
"We and the Game Commission were in a no-win situation. If the bear would have went into the crowd and mauled someone, we would have been the bad guys. Now we are the bad guys for shooting and killing the bear. People need to stop and think about the value we put on human lives over the lives of a wild animal."
The bear headed toward a residential area behind McCabe Trucking Inc. before it died. It suffered seven gunshot wounds, Givler said.
Testosterone from the bears' mating season - which is under way - and the adrenaline produced during the chase affected the time it takes for the tranquilizer to take effect, Givler said.
"If the citizens would have stayed away, we could have gotten the Game Commission there sooner. We could have followed the bear out of the tree, waited on the medicine to take effect, and the bear could have been taken and released. The citizens did not give police or the bear the time we deserved," he said.