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Bear scare.

Bear sightings in western Massachusetts have become increasingly common in recent years. According to state wildlife officials, black bears alone now number at least 2,500 in the region, so it is hardly a surprise that confrontations between humans and bears have also increased.

In early August, for instance, a 300-pound male black bear meandered onto the property of Mrs. and Mrs. Allen Jurkowski in Palmer, then reached through a window of their farmhouse and took a swipe at one of their three Chihuahuas. The dog was not injured, and the bear eventually lumbered off, but according to Al Jurkowski it returned every day or two for a week as if stalking the couple and their pets.

At around 8 p.m. on August 15, the Jurkowskis were watching television when they heard a loud bang coming from the front porch. The bear was back again. Jurkowski told his wife to call 911. As reported by the August 18 Boston Herald, "Palmer police arrived minutes later and chased the bear into the woods with flashlights and sirens," then "told the Jurkowskis not to worry; the bear would probably be too scared to return."

At around 9 p.m., however, Mr. Jurkowski saw the animal heading once again for the farmhouse doorway, which was protected by only a flimsy screen. Mrs. Jurkowski went to a bedroom and locked herself in as her husband grabbed a shotgun and confronted the bear. "He was 5 feet away when I fired my first shot," Mr. Jurkowski told the Herald. "I shot three more times and then my gun jammed. He gave a humongous roar, and I ran into the house." The bear, mortally wounded, retreated about 50 feet, then laid down and died.

Mr. Jurkowski told the August 17 Springfield Republican that he felt bad about having to kill it, but feared that it had returned to harm the Chihuahuas, his wife or himself. "The thing was right in my face.... I'm not a vengeful person, but I had to do something."

The Republican further reported that Palmer "Police Chief Robert P. Frydryk and Environmental Police Lt. John S. Pajak both said Jurkowski was justified in shooting the bear because it was a threat."
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Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 18, 2004
Words:370
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