Bones found by a trapper Tuesday in a section of woods in Pequea Township are the remains of a bear, officials determined Wednesday.
The foot and ankle bones appeared to be human remains, so police and a Lancaster County forensic team responded to the site in the 3500 block of Willow Street Pike.
Southern Regional police initially were dispatched to the woods after the trapper called 911 about 5 p.m., officials said. They called the forensic team and Lancaster County Coroner.
The team worked the scene surrounded by yellow caution tape for about five hours, and an officer was stationed there overnight.
The bones, which showed signs of being cut or sawed, were found near a trash bag that was stuffed into a hole.
"Think about it: a trash bag, cut bones and a hole," Southern Regional police Chief John Fiorill said. "That added to the thought this could possibly be a crime scene.
"We weren't taking any chances."
County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said the bones looked human.
"Very much so," he said. "The foot and ankle of a bear looks very much like a human."
Fiorill said he also thought the bones looked human, so he called Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman to inform him of the potential crime scene.
"When you looked at it, it looked a lot like a part of a human skeleton," Fiorill said.
Investigators cleared the scene after Diamantoni ran a series of tests. Through work with a radiologist, the coroner determined the bones were indeed from a bear — an animal not known to live in such a setting.
Police learned a local taxidermist recently had skinned a bear for a customer, Fiorill said. The chief suggested an animal may have gotten to the discarded pieces and dragged them into the woods.
"It's funny now," Fiorill said Wednesday, "but at the time, we were like, 'What do we have here?'"
Brett Hambright, "Bear bones cause stir in Pequea"
Monday, August 17, 2009
Bear remains in Pequea
From the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal (June 18, 2009):