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Frazer bear sightings prompt heightened precautions

A bear trap is prepared at the Pittsburgh Mills mall on Monday, July 23, 2012. The trap was set up at a remote location on Yutes Run Road in an effort to trap a second, larger black bear spotted twice near the mall in Frazer. Courtesy of WPXI

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

The arrival of two black bears in two days at the Pittsburgh Mills mall prompted state Game Commission officers to install traps on Monday and for Frazer police and mall security officers to increase patrols.

Game Commission officers tranquilized a 125-pound female bear that entered the Sears store on Saturday night.

The Game Commission and police are on the lookout for a larger bear, at least 300 pounds, that was seen crossing Route 28 near the mall Sunday evening. It was spotted again Monday morning.

“All of this is a precaution,” said Pittsburgh Mills general manager Jerry Crites.“We don't see any danger. Everyone should realize that if they see one, don't walk up to it. Keep your distance and be aware.”

Mall security officers are increasing their patrols, and Frazer police have access to more than a dozen parking lot surveillance cameras.

“They have increased patrols, and they are being more vigilant” said Frazer clerk Lori Ziencik.

Game Commission Southwest spokesman Tom Fazzi said the 18-month-old bear tranquilized was taken to Cambria County, where it had once been trapped and fitted with a global positioning system collar.

“She has never been aggressive,” he said, “but for whatever reason, she started to move west about a month after she was collared.”

Over a number of weeks, the bear walked to Indiana and Armstrong counties and into Mercer County outside Grove City before heading south.

Fazzi said that is surprising because female bears usually don't go too far from their mother's home range.The larger bear was spotted early Monday in a wooded area behind the Wal-Mart and two mall restaurants.

Fazzi said a conservation officer was setting up traps in a wooded area off of mall property and another on mall property.

Pennsylvania is home to 18,000 to 20,000 black bears, Fazzi said. Most are more timid than bears in western states.

Fazzi said the animals usually run from people and seek to avoid them.

“They are pretty docile for the most part. Black bears don't need to be feared, but respected” because of their teeth, claws and strength, he said.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

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