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Bear sighted in the 'burbs, charges cop

Police on Tuesday converged on the area surrounding a Radnor Township elementary school after a bear charged a motorcycle officer who was patrolling the area in response to a sighting.

"It just came right at me," Flanagan said. "I had to dump my bike."

The elementary school was placed on a precautionary Level One lockdown for the entire school day. The nearby Academy of Notre Dame de Namur also declared a voluntary lockdown, township officials said.

Ithan school officials notified parents of added safety measures for Wednesday. School district security staff will supervise the area where the bear was sighted and will be on hand for dismissal. A township police officer also will be detailed at the school. Police have shut down the two township pathways that lead into the wooded area, school officials said.

According to police, a man walking his dog Tuesday morning called officials after he saw a bear. A short time later, two women who were walking along Haymarket Lane by Clyde Road saw the bear cross the street in front of them and head into the woods that separate the Ithan Woods neighborhood from Ithan Elementary School property.

The school, near Sproul and Bryn Mawr Avenues, is surrounded by woods and set on 54 sprawling acres.

William Gallagher, the township's animal control officer, was on school property when the bear came from the woods and onto a nearby walking path.

Gallagher, who has been an animal control officer for 10 years, said the bear is most likely a juvenile.

The bear sighting has attracted statewide attention, and spawned a mock Twitter handle, @RadnorBear.

Police have said the bear is probably the same one spotted in Chester County last week.

"We are anticipating the bear is on the move and that he is taking a walk through Radnor," said Flanagan.

Flanagan later went to retrieve his bike from where he dumped it at the edge of the woods, about 200 feet from the school, where students were pushed up against a large window eagerly following the search for the ursine visitor. As Flanagan returned to the school, he was asked about his encounter with the bear.

But the stoic police officer demurred before jumping into a Game Commission truck to continue the hunt. "We have a bear to catch," he said as the truck sped off down the school's long, winding driveway.