Near the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer, the bear hunt is on.
Early this afternoon, Matt Kramer, a wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, pulled into a gravel lot near the Macy's department store, towing a large camouflaged canister bearing the words "Danger Bear Trap."
The trap, along with the Hostess brand mini muffins and ding dongs Officer Kramer will leave inside, will be used to trap the bear that has been spotted several times near the mall in the past few days. Officer Kramer left the mall parking lot with a Frazer police officer to scout the best place to leave the trap. It would be somewhere in the vicinity of the mall, he said.
Once the bear is caught, it will be moved to a more rural area.
The mature black bear, believed to be 200 to 300 pounds, is the second bear to visit the mall in recent days.
On Saturday night, a smaller black bear weighing about 120 pounds entered the mall's Sears store, where it walked around for about 15 minutes before it was tranquilized and removed from the store and relocated to Cambria County.
The bear, a female that was probably a year and a half old, had been caught and equipped with a tracking collar in early June in Johnstown, said Tom Fazi, a spokesman for the Game Commission's Southwestern region.
He wasn't sure why the bear had traveled to Allegheny County, but bear sightings here have become less rare in recent years.
"We've got quite a few bears making their way through Allegheny County," he said.
Game commissioners removed a bear from North Park recently, he said, and in the fall, the bear hunting season in the region that includes Allegheny County will be "liberalized" to combat the increased numbers of bears in the area.
The mall bear sightings came as no surprise to Lori Ziencik, secretary and treasurer for the township of Frazer, which has its offices in the mall.
She was not in her office this weekend when the bears were spotted, but she has seen bears come up to the porch of her home. It was only a matter of time, she said, before the bears made their way to the mall in search of food.
"I don't think this will be the last of them," she said.
Jerry Crites, the general manager for Pittsburgh Mills, said the mall has increased its exterior security and has turned off the automatic function on its sliding glass doors, which is how the bear entered Sears Saturday night.
Rich Allen, who was visiting Sears this morning, said he sees bears frequently at his home in Fawn.
He wasn't worried about seeing them while he shopped.
"They don't make me nervous," he said.
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published July 23, 2012 8:00 PM