The Keeffe family of Pennsylvania was prepared for a special day Wednesday, considering it was the last day of the school year. They never imagined, however, the day would include a black bear in their backyard, at the same time when the school bus arrived on their street.
"I was walking from my kitchen to the front door and saw something brownish and thought it was a mulch delivery," Kathleen Keeffe told ABCNews.com. "I opened the back door and saw it was a bear and screamed and slammed the glass door."
Pacing the backyard of the Furlong, Buckingham Township, Pa., home Keeffe shares with her husband, Paul, and their four children, ages 10, 8, 6 and 3, was a bear that had been spotted in an adjoining neighborhood earlier in the day before showing up at the Keeffe 's home around 12:30 p.m.
A landscaper who followed the bear from his previous stop called 911 and trapped the bear by closing the gate to the Keffee's backyard. Meanwhile, the school bus containing two of Keeffe's children and nearly two dozen more kids pulled down the street.
"The boys were in hog heaven," Keeffe said. "The funniest thing was the kids' reaction. One of them said, 'Someone should go get a Nerf gun'"
Instead of following that advice, the large crowd by then gathered outside the Keeffe's home watched as the bear climbed atop the family's play set. After about 10 minutes, the bear tried to escape the yard by cracking the five-foot-high metal fence. When that proved unsuccessful, the bear instead hopped over the fence, ran across the street, into a park and then out of sight.
"When it went up and over [the fence] people screamed and it was a mass exodus into whatever house they could get into," Keeffe said. "That was the only time it was really scary."
"It was moving the whole thing and you could see its strength," she said. "But I didn't ever hear it make a sound and it never seemed aggressive. It just ran by people, landscapers and a woman out walking."
Police, who arrived after the bear had fled, told Keeffe they had received multiple calls of bear sightings that day. Wildlife officials this morning tranquilized and removed another black bear from a tree at a shopping center in nearby Warrington Township, Bucks County, according to local ABC News affiliate WFVI-TV.
Keeffe says her family had never seen a bear in the seven years they have lived in their home, located across the street from a farm and about 10 minutes from the New Jersey border.
If the bear does return, however, her oldest son is prepared to make it a part of the family.
"Our oldest son, Bennett, is very creative and he is an animal lover," Keeffe said. "He named it Freddie and wanted to keep it."
- Nature & Environment