Bear Trapped and Sedated at High School
Mom and her cubs watched sporting events at school.
It seems that bears like to watch high school sporting events—and eat at dumpsters, at least the ones at Jefferson Township High School. Because of these visits, the school district will assess the condition of bear-proof dumpsters at the high school that may be in need of repair or modification.
A mother bear—called a sow—and two cubs had been seen around the high school for about a week, according to schools superintendent Joseph Kraemer.
“They even bent the bear lid on the dumpster at the middle school to access the garbage. At one point, John (DiColo, the school’s athletic director) had to stop a field hockey game to chase the bears away,” Kraemer said. “They didn’t seem in any particular hurry to leave.”
Kraemer said that the district decided to call the Division of Fish and Wildlife, part of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for help with removing the bears from the school area.
“They suggested that they would come and trap and relocate the bears,” Kraemer said.
Lawrence Hajna, spokesman for the DEP, confirmed that the school requested a bear trap several days ago, which was set up at a construction dumpster near the maintenance area, according to Kraemer.
“We received a call at about 6 p.m. on Monday that a bear was in the trap,” Hajna said. “We sent a bear biologist to respond. The sow was sedated and removed from the trap.”
Kraemer said that when the biologist arrived, a field hockey game was in progress, making for a crowd at the school.
“Parents and students were very concerned about the bear’s plight,” he said. “I believe it was assumed that the bear was going to be put down. This was far from the truth. The bears were to be relocated for their protection.”
Both Kraemer and Hajna said that the hope was that the stress of being trapped and sedated would be enough to discourage the bears from returning.
A district staff member supervised the bear and her cubs while she slept, Kraemer said. When the bear awoke, she and her cubs safely walked into the woods.
While the district had purchased custom bear lids for trash dumpsters six years ago, Kraemer said, the district will make other changes based on recommendations from the DEP biologist.
The construction dumpster where the bear was trapped will be relocated and secured so that humans cannot put food into it, he said. In addition, the district may relocate a bear-proof dumpster from the board office to the high school to increase capacity at the high school.
“We will also be reviewing trash disposal procedures with pertinent staff,” Kraemer said.
Hajna suggested that residents in the area to secure trash.
“Bears will keep coming back if there is something that attracts them to the area, like a food source,” he said.