A bear walked into a Bozeman, Montana high school Wednesday morning, sniffing around for a while before going on his or her way. He or she didn’t stop to use the restroom, leaving the age-old question of “Does a bear [defecate] in the woods?” unanswered, for now.
— Michael Wright (@mj_wright1) October 14, 2015
As the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports, at about 7:30 Wednesday morning, members of the Bozeman High School Booster Club were meeting at the school, doing whatever a booster club does, when someone spotted the bear scurrying about on the football field. He or she then made their way to a school courtyard.
The bear then found its way inside through a garage door in the back of the school’s building.
The bear then walked down an interior of the school’s hallway, according to Bozeman Schools Superintendent Rob Watson.
“He was just kind of sniffing around the edge of the building.”
Fortunately, one of the Booster Club members in attendance this morning is a Gallatin County sheriff’s deputy, who “kept an eye” on the bear until he or she left the building. Conflicting reports suggest that the bear either wandered out on its own or was hustled out by the deputy, as the Helena Independent Record suggests.
Once outside, the bear scampered off into some woods near the school, never to be heard from again. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Andrea Jones said that the bear will be “monitored” should it ever return.
Bozeman High School, with an enrollment of around 1,800 students, is the only public high school in the city of Bozeman (population: 37,000). Its mascot is, unfortunately, not a bear, as that would have been too ironic for words. It’s a hawk.
As human development encroaches on wildlife’s habitats, encounters with wild animals — including bears — are on the increase, according to National Geographic. And although fatal bear-on-human attacks are extremely rare, they are not unheard of. And bears are turning up with alarming frequency in places where they’re not wanted. Last October, a bear cub turned up in a California pharmacy.
As the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department notes on its website, human and bear interactions are becoming more common, especially when it comes to black bears.
“Black bears are powerful animals with few natural enemies. They are also very tolerant of humans. Many bears have learned to associate food with people. Unfortunately, this leads to confrontations between humans and bears that can often be detrimental to both.”
And should you actually encounter a bear, says the department, your best bet is to stay calm, pick up any small children who may be near you, speak softly, and appear as non-threatening as possible. The department’s website is woefully short on what to do if you encounter a bear within the halls of a high school.
Wildlife spokesperson Andrea Jones tells the Chronicle that wildlife has, in fact, made its way into Bozeman high school before. She didn’t specify what kind, although a hawk or two flying through the building would have been downright priceless, considering the school’s mascot.
But, she says, there has never a been a bear inside Bozeman High School, as far as she’s aware.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/BURDE Photography]