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.

Police and Pennsylvania Game Commission officials searched for the bear in the vicinity of Haymarket Lane near Ithan Elementary School. It was last seen around 2 p.m. entering Skunk Hollow, a heavily wooded trail near Darby Paoli Road, according to Lt. Christopher Flanagan.

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

He said the bear came out of the woods and was running parallel to the officer before charging. Flanagan hastily returned to the school on foot.

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.

Police are asking residents not to approach the bear and to call 911 immediately.

"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.

Residents had previously spotted a large black bear on Saturday, about 7:30 p.m. along the 400 block of Roundhill in the St. Davids section of Radnor Township.

The bear population in the state is on the increase. The township has a list of tips on its website and suggests that residents remove bird feeders,  secure trash cans, and cover all outdoor grills, which attract bears.

The township also offered tips to protect pets from bears:
• Keep your dog on a leash if a bear is active in your area.
• Turn on outside lights and make noise when walking pets after dark. 
• Keep your pet in the house after dark.
• Don’t leave small pets outside unless you are present.
• Feed your pets inside. If you must feed them outside, remove their dish and clean up afterward. Store food and other attractants in animal-proof containers with locking lids.