Black Bear On The Little Lehigh Creek

By Dave Hart

July 2009

Kelcey Burguess spoke at our June 16 Meeting with his program, “Black Bears on the Fly: Avoiding Conflicts, Managing Encounters.” He is the Black Bear Project Leader of the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife and presented this excellent program for us; it must have been something very similar for this Pennsylvania fishing group.

The Central Jersey field trip to Little Lehigh Creek near Allentown, Pa. was a major fishing trip. There aren't many places where you can enjoy good trout fishing nearby this city. Fishing was downstream a small distance away from the city toward Limestone Springs. Most of the areas are open, but a few are posted.. The fishing was early in the season and the fishermen worked the trout population very well with mostly Rainbows and a Brown here and there. The stream is 40 to 60 yards wide in the park and the limestone springs keep a good supply of water throughout the summer months.

Parking is in an enclosed area downstream and CJTU's group arrived about an hour after a Pennsylvania group. They had started fishing, and one of their women, leading this group, was looking for a place to relieve herself. She left the river on the opposite side to go to a slightly wooded area. As she walked in, a Black Bear approached her and for protection she threw herself on the ground, covering her neck and abdomen with her hands and hoping for the best.

The bear approached her and cuffed her several times. Then he covered her with heavy branches, leaves and weeds. She heard no sounds from him twice after he buried her again, so she put up her head and he cuffed her twice and covered her with more brush.

Meanwhile, the woman's fellow fishermen were shouting, "Where are you, Mary?" When she heard them, she yelled back. The bear left as the men came quickly to help her out. They could not believe her being under the brush, but when she jumped up she still had to go. They told her of a restroom a short distance up the river. After taking care of herself, she mentioned the bear to some of our Central Jersey guys. Luckily, no other bears were seen that day.

Dave Hart