PINE TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – In the shade of state game land trees in Wexford, the 130-pound black bear was sprawled on a blanket appearing to be sleeping the day away.
In reality, he was sleeping thanks to a State Game Commission tranquilizer.
The folks in Monroeville had given the bear the name of Bernard and it kind of stuck. While the Game Commission discourages anything that suggests a wild animal is anything other than wild, even the conservation officers were calling the bear Bernie.
Once Bernie was nighty-noodles, the conservation officers placed deer tags in his ears and a tattoo inside his lip so he can be tracked in the future.
If he ever shows up around people again, the commission will know his history.
As Bernie snoozed Conservation Officer Dan Puhala pointed out why those seen on video trying to feed him marshmallows were taking a significant risk.
“At a year-and-a-half old he is basically the equivalent of a male teenage bear. So they don’t have some of the normal instinctive behaviors that a normal adult bear would,” Puhala says.
Specifically, they don’t know to be afraid of people so, Puhala says, “when people start interacting with them that gets very dangerous. You have to make sure you keep your distance from them and respect them. Even those this guy is only 130 pounds; he’s very strong and very powerful.”
In addition to nasty teeth and a powerful jaw, Puhala held the sleeping bears paw up to his own hand.
“You don’t want to mess with the business end of this paw, which, even though he’s a young bear, his paw is about the same size as my hand,” said Puhala.
He says the claw can do a lot of shredding. That is why Puhala says stay as far away from any bear as possible, and pass on trying to get a bear selfie. Turning your back on a bear for even a second can be very dangerous. Also, he says don’t feed them.
Watch The Bear Enter The Humane Trap
Once processed, Bernie was returned to the trap to sleep off the tranquilizer and get ready for the trip to his new home.
Puhala says because Bernie has not only been around people, but associates people with sweet food, he’s a real risk to gravitate to people.
“It’s possible, which is why I want to get him out to as remote an area as I can think of,” Puhala said.
That area turned out to be at the end of a long dirt road on state land in Fayette County. Once the trap was open, Bernie stuck around for all of four seconds before scooting off into the woods.