FREWSBURG - The Frewsburg Central School mascot made a live appearance Friday morning.
The district released a statement asking residents to exercise caution while outdoors after students spotted a black bear on the south side of the school during first period.
After viewing the bear on surveillance cameras in the school office, Assistant Principal Tiffany Frederes alerted the town of Carroll police, who indicated the bear had left campus and was traveling toward Tops on Main Street.
This black bear was spotted wandering the Frewsburg Central School campus on Friday morning. School officials contacted the police and issued a statement to parents urging them to exercise caution after the bear was seen on the south side of the school during the first part of the school day.
Photo courtesy of Frewsburg Central School
"We put it on our Facebook page, and sent parents a message that we'd advised our teachers not to take kids outside, just because we knew he'd been so close," Frederes said.
Danielle Patti, Robert H. Jackson Elementary School principal, also advised teachers not to take students outside for the remainder of the day.
Tim Spierto, bear biologist with the Department of Environmental Conservation office in Allegany, said this is the time of year when young black bears are dispersing from their mothers.
"We have a whole cohort of bears looking for a home for the first time, and that brings them into areas where we wouldn't normally see them," Spierto said.
He also advised residents to remove bird feeders from their properties.
"These animals are tuned in to their next meal, and that's really all they're thinking about," Spierto said. "If they can find food in your backyard, that's where they're going to go to take advantage of barbecue grills, pet food and bird seed. What normally happens is people will take their bird feeders down for a day and put them back up. Bears don't wear watches, and they don't have calendars, so I can almost guarantee they'll come back and visit you again if the opportunity arises."
Spierto said with instant information via Facebook, radio and television, sightings can spread through a neighborhood quickly.
"The part that concerns us is when people want to be the next home on the block to lure the bear there, and that always ends up bad for the bear," he said. "Observe the animal from a distance, but they're wild, fast and powerful and you have to give them the respect they deserve."
Otherwise, he said they're timid creatures who, for the most part, want nothing to do with humans.
"The issue is when you become too close, and the bear has to escape or defend his space because he has no other solution," Spierto said. "You don't ever want to surprise one of these things."