HONEOYE FALLS — Students in the Honeoye Falls-Lima School District had to spend the day inside Monday, after a bear sighting near the campus put the school into exterior lockdown.
The sighting occurred in the Church, Papermill Street area at about 7:50 a.m. by a resident who lives in that neighborhood, said school superintendent Michelle Kavanaugh. The sighting did not occur on campus, but was in the general vicinity of the school.
“As soon as we heard of the sighting, we reported it to the authorities,” said Kavanaugh. “We took precautions. We did alert parents directly who have children in that immediate vicinity so the children were not out waiting at bus stops at the time of pick-up.”
Once children were on campus, an exterior lockdown was put in place at all three schools in the district to ensure no students were outside and in any danger. The school remained under lockdown until the bear had been located.
“We’ve had our own buildings and ground crew members traveling through the campus to monitor the perimeter of the campus and to be sure everyone is in the building,” said Kavanaugh. “So we’ve been doing our own monitoring.” Kavanaugh said that parents should expect no delays with afternoon dismissal.
When the sighting was first reported, the Department of Environmental Conservation was notified and sent an officer into the village to search for the bear. The Environmental Conservation Officer who investigated the reports was not able to locate the bear, according to Regional Wildlife Manager Michael Wasilco. He added that the DEC has received several reports of bears this year from the Honeoye Falls, Lima area, which has been normal for the past four to five years.
Wasilco gave several possible explanations for the increased number of sightings. Either the bears are heading north through the Honeoye Falls region, or a few bears have taken up residence in the area. The bears moving north is the more likely explanation, he said. “The bears that are being seen are usually always small,” said Wasilco. “So if it was the same bear you’d expect it to get bigger.”
Wasilco stated that the bears pose no immediate threat to people in the area, saying that bears are fairly wary of people and are likely to keep their distance.
“The biggest key to avoiding problems with bears is keeping them wild,” Wasilco commented. “Take the same precautions you would take to keep raccoons from causing problems. Remove the food sources that will attract them into your yard.”