PA: Flap over taking a huge bear goes on

Bushkill, Pa. – Controversy continues to swirl around the taking
of an enormous bear in Pike County last month by a crossbow
hunter.

The animal, which was killed legally in the Delaware County
Water Gap Recreation Area just north of Fernwood Resort, weighed an
estimated 875 pounds alive and is the largest ever taken in
Pennsylvania.

But the animal, which was the size of a grizzly and reportedly
is the second-largest black bear documented in the world, got so
big because it was regularly fed by locals, according to
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials.

The huge bruin was even nicknamed Bozo, and it reportedly was
fed ice cream the night before its demise.

Leroy Lewis, the 71-year-old former groundskeeper for the
resort, has been feeding the bear for many years. The Game
Commission issued a written warning to him for illegally feeding
the bear in October.

A photo of him petting the bear while it gobbled pastries has
been circulating on the Web. Lewis could not be reached for comment
for this story.

The crossbow hunter, David Price, 46, of Cresco, has refused
recent requests for interviews. He told news reporters after taking
the huge bear that he felt badly about killing it because it was
domesticated. It reportedly took six arrows to down the brute.

However, Price was clearly aware of this particular bear’s
feeding habits. Price and his hunting partner harvested the bear
between Lewis’ trailer and the Delaware Water Gap National
Recreation Area.

“We’ve been after this bear for a few years,” he told a news
reporter. Initially thrilled to have taken a world-class trophy, he
later called the feat “tainted.”

Lewis claimed he had “lost a friend” after Bozo was killed.

Despite the controversy, the Game Commission is satisfied that
the taking of the enormous bear was legal. However, the agency
wouldn’t commit to the animal being a state record, because that
depends on skull measurements that can only be taken after months
of drying.

The bear was captured in June 2009 by the New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection. According to a New Jersey DEP
spokesman, the bear had entered an area set up by the agency to
monitor a female bear as part of a research project.

“Bozo” was darted with a tranquilizer and removed to allow
research to continue, he said. The bear was tattooed to show
biologists had an encounter with it. It weighed 711 pounds at the
time. 

On the heels of this incident, the Game Commission is reminding
people that nothing good comes from feeding wildlife.

“Animals lose their fear of humans and bad things happen, both
to the animals, which are euthanized in worst-case scenarios, and
to people, who sometimes suffer real injuries and not just hurt
feelings,” an agency spokesman said.

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