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Thursday, May 05, 2005
By Conor Greene
An High Bridge cop stationed outside the elementary school April 28 had to deal with more than directing traffic and keeping on eye on departing pupils -- a black bear showed up on school grounds just as children were being dismissed for the day.

Patrolman Brett Bartman was on foot patrol near the school when pupils told him there was a bear on Fairview Avenue. The officer then spotted the bear in a nearby backyard.

The animal then ran across the road toward the school parking lot, where pupils and parents were gathered following dismissal. Bartman yelled to Principal Carol Howell to get the children inside the school.

The bear stopped in a wooded area between Fairview Avenue and the school driveway. Bartman was standing about 75 feet away from the animal when it turned and ran directly at him. Bartman jumped down a 5-foot embankment into the driveway and drew his gun. Taking cover behind a mother's car, he told her to roll up the windows.

Then another parent drove up and took a photograph of the bear. Possibly startled by the flash, the bear ran into the woods behind the school.

Bartman said the bear was "definitely not a cub." He estimated its weight at about 300 pounds. "We get bear calls all the time, but this got closer than I wanted," he later said. "We know there are bears out here, but for it to get that close to the school, especially given the timing, left some parents nervous..

Superintendent Patricia Ash, who was not on the elementary school grounds when the incident occurred, said teachers will now carry air horns at recess to warn students if the bear comes back. She said that the situation occurred about 10 minutes after the 3 p.m. dismissal bell rang. Often parents and pupils stand around and talk on the school grounds, but because it was raining, there was only a handful of students left when the bear wandered onto the property, she said.

"We have a bear for a neighbor, and I don't think he is going away," she said. "We will have to learn how to live with him in the area. Bartman did exactly what is expected and handled the situation extremely appropriately."

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The cop drew his gun, with all the kids there? What if he missed the running bear! The bear I agree shouldn't have been there, but was probably just as scared as the police officer. I do believe there is a bear problem, but maybe all these sitings and situations will bring light to the subject come hunting season. Maybe czar Campbell will take the credit for letting us hunt them, since he has control. The majority of the public has no clue he stopped the hunt last year. I have asked many people about this subject and they don't even know that the state has a bear problem. Entirely to many things going on in their lives to stop and look around. It's know wonder we lose so many of our god given, not state given rights. Reporting to hunters that already know of the problem will have know effect on the hunting season. Make non-sportsmen and women know is the key. Only 1 in 10 are sportsmen and women in this state. 115,000 resident hunters and 10,000 non-resident.

Till our trails cross,
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