WEST WYOMING -- The state game commission wants to know what happened to a mother bear and her three cubs after their carcasses were found in a church parking lot in Luzerne County.
Wildlife conservation officers were called to St. Monica's Church in West Wyoming after the dead bears were found around 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Now, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is highly suspicious the bears may have been poisoned.
Rick Humphrey of West Wyoming said it was a church member who found the bears before morning mass.
"They assumed the bears were just sleeping at the time, however when they came out after mass, the bears were still there. They went over to check on them and they found the bear dead," Humphrey said.
Conservation Officer William Williams says they were called around 8 a.m. and says the deaths of the bears are highly suspicious.
The animals are being tested to see if they may have been poisoned.
"Obviously, we're in a borough, so it's a populated area. The fact that four bears were found at the same location, they showed no signs of external injuries, no bullet wounds," said Williams.
"It's a shame if that happened that someone would be that cruel to these animals," said Humphrey.
The men say the bears are well known in the area.
"We've seen these bears since they were small cubs, coming through the neighborhood, through West Wyoming, Swoyersville, and Exeter, and now to see the three of them dead," said Joe Granteed of West Wyoming.
The game commission confirmed the bears were familiar to this part of Luzerne County as conservation officers picked them up this summer in Swoyersville.
"The bears were all tagged. We've seen this bear before," said Williams. "They were relocated to the game lands in Bear Creek. They found their way back into the borough, but the ending is not good for them."
"Residents in Swoyersville and West Wyoming and Exeter, you'd see pictures on Facebook of everybody seeing these bears and now, now they're gone," said Granteed.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Northeast Region of the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 570-675-1143 or by calling the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-888-PGC-8001.