In addition to the Horsham bear's ill-fated appearance this month, bear sightings have been reported in Abington Township, Montgomery County, and Bensalem Township, Bucks County. In recent days, five sightings have been logged in Burlington and Camden Counties.
If the Jersey sightings involved only one bear - and that is possible - it has had quite a time. On Wednesday evening, a bear visited the Tarnsfield Swim Club in Westampton; on Thursday, one snacked on bird-feeder contents at the Homestead adult development in Mansfield.
The week before, Carmen Pontelandolfo of Evesham, Burlington County, received a call from daughter Brielle, 19. A bear - which residents estimated at 400 pounds - was outside the Pontelandolfo home, rummaging through trash cans, feasting on leftover crumb cake. "I didn't believe her at first," he said. "But then I could tell. She had some fear in her voice."
Sightings might strike fear in humans, but the Horsham bear's odyssey suggests the suburban life isn't always a picnic for the bear.
Human-bear encounters have spiked with the population of black bears, the only kind in this area. Hunting restrictions are one cause, said Duane Diefenbach, an adjunct professor of wildlife and ecology at Pennsylvania State University.
At one time the animals were so scarce that the Pennsylvania Game Commission banned bear hunting in 1970, and again in 1977 and 1978 - the first back-to-back closed seasons in state history. It permitted hunting on only one day in 1979.
The commission then placed stricter controls on licensing. Now, the state's bear population has rebounded to levels not seen since the 19th century.
The commission estimates it to be 18,000 - up from the 1970s nadir of 5,000. As of 2009, New Jersey, with one-sixth the landmass of Pennsylvania, reported a population of roughly 3,500.
More bears mean more territorial needs, more roaming, and more sightings, said Cheryl Trewella of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
"These are wild animals," Trewella said. Their locations are "continuously changing."
Bears are on the move this time of year as females drive off their male cubs to make room for newborns. The exiled boys then search for their own territories, where older males will not attack them.
The cubs typically venture about 25 miles from their dens, Diefenbach said, but have been found to trek as far as 100 miles. Trewella said two bears recently encountered in lower Bucks County were wearing Jersey tags. In New Jersey, some nuisance bears are tranquilized and tagged before they are released.
When bears wander into human domains, problems can arise for both humans and intruders.
"When a bear gets into urban areas, there is a tendency for people to panic," Trewella said.
Earlier this month, the Horsham bear ran into at least one unfriendly human or humans, who fired away with a BB gun and a shotgun. It was not clear how many people had shot at the bear or who might have fired the arrow.
Trewella said the weapons used are illegal for bear hunting. Plus, June is hardly hunting season: That's in November.
In 2012, more than 100,000 bear-hunting licenses were issued in Pennsylvania, where nearly a million hunting licenses are sold each year.
Black bears ordinarily aren't aggressive toward people, unless one gets between a mother and her cubs. But bears will eat anything they can get their paws on.
Trewella advises against leaving garbage outside over night. She also recommends taking down bird feeders if one hears a bear is in town.
"If you eliminate the food source, you'll greatly reduce your interaction with black bears," Diefenbach said.
To be safe, also flick on that outside light before letting out the family dog.
Don't approach a bear to take pictures or feed it, Trewella said: "We don't want to encourage the bear to stay here."
BY THE NUMBERS
Pa. bear population today.
Pa. bear population
in the 1970s.
Miles a bear cub will typically travel to
stake out new territory.
in 2012 in Pennsylvania.
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Game Commission