A 350-pound black bear was killed Sunday after it wandered into downtown Uniontown and resisted police efforts to direct it out of the city.
Capt. David Rutter of Uniontown Police said the bear was first spotted in town at 2:45 p.m.
He said officials were aware the bear might find its way into the city because earlier callers to Fayette 911 reported sighting it in Hopwood and in South Union on Pennsylvania Avenue and near Huggins Mobile Home Park.
Rutter speculated the bear might have been attracted downtown because of the annual Italian Heritage Festival. Sunday was the final day of the two-day event.
"We're unsure if it was smelling the food from the Italian festival," Rutter said. "We tried repeatedly to corral the bear away from the downtown area."
Rutter said each time police directed the bear away from the crowded festival, it quickly found its way back. Officers were concerned the bear might harm someone because it did not appear to fear people.
"We tried to get him back up Coolspring Street and into the woods," Rutter said. "He kept doubling back to go back downtown."
Rutter said a warden with the Pennsylvania Game Commission was enroute to the city from Ligonier with a tranquilizer gun when officers had no choice but to shoot the bear.
"We had him cornered in a yard off Cleveland Avenue, but because of the number of children and people in the area, we weren't taking any chances," Rutter said.
"There were dozens of children playing in the street," Rutter said, noting the bear's paws were larger than his own hands and had claws several inches long. "A little kid looks like a squirrel to a bear."
The bear was shot at approximately 3:30 p.m. Rutter said the Game Commission warden removed the bear after it was shot.
"It's unfortunate we had to kill it, but a 350-pound bear is not a small animal," Rutter said. "Leaving the bear run at large was too much of a risk."
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