Bears Cause a Scare


Credit: Steve Heon

Sidney Jackson, Editor-in-Chief

Western Albemarle’s “friendly neighborhood bears” have made at least three visits to our campus in the past few weeks. The group consisted of an adult, most likely a momma bear, and her two cubs. They were spotted on the first day of school, August 21st, and again on September 12th. 

When the family was spotted, students were encouraged to stay inside until the bears have left by themselves or been pushed back into the woods by a county official.

Principal Patrick McLaughlin says of the protocol for bears on campus, “We notify Officer Vanderveer, who is our resource officer, and he will generally go out and monitor where they are. Our protocol is once we see them go back into the woods, we wait an hour. We tell everybody to stay inside for that hour. If we don’t see them again, we’re feeling pretty confident that they have probably gone someplace else, and it’s probably okay for us to let kids back outside.”

Every time the bears visit, it is quite the commotion at Western. Many Snapchat stories are posted and pictures are taken all around. The bears have not done any damage to campus. They are likely at school in search of food, or have been pushed away from their homes due to ongoing construction in the Crozet area.

Jaime L. Sajecki, Regional Wildlife Manager in the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, says that, “The bear is not visiting the school because he or she means any harm to the students (or teachers). It is very likely that the smell of some lunches or other yummy things in the dumpster were what enticed the bear onto the campus.”

This means that there is no need to panic. Of course, no person should ever attempt to approach or come in close contact with a bear. 

The school and the Wildlife department are working hard together to make sure the bears stay at a safe distance away. They have started to come up with different options and procedures to keep the bears away. So far, they have come up with ideas such as installing bear-proof dumpsters and encouraging students not to leave their trash or food out.