By Tim Cox, BDN Staff
PRINCETON, Maine — State wildlife officials have set a trap to try to capture a nuisance bear sighted at Princeton Elementary School and elsewhere in the area.
Sweet snacks from the school’s cafeteria were put in the culvert-style nuisance trap that Brad Richard, a local game warden, set around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“I put in some sweets to kind of entice him,” Richard said. “That is the kind of stuff that they are looking for. I noticed, just after I set the trap across the way, that a beehive was destroyed. I believe he did that as well.”
The school principal called Richard and reported seeing the bear on school grounds, Mark Latti, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said Wednesday.
The bear was seen on school grounds about 8 p.m. Tuesday, principal Charity Williams said. The animal was spotted around the rear of the building near trash cans. People who live behind the school saw the bear and reported it to school officials, Williams said.
The bear was seen around bird feeders and trash cans in the area again around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Latti.
Children were allowed to go out for recess on Wednesday, but they were confined to the playground area, the principal said. The playground is about three-tenths of a mile from where the bear was seen, and it is located on the other side of the building. The children were monitored by school staff equipped with a walkie-talkie, she said.
“We felt they were safe,” Williams said.
“Typically, we catch them at nighttime,” Richard said. “But he was out eating during the day, so he could be caught at any time.”
This is the fourth complaint Richard has received this season about nuisance bears in the area, Latti said. Richard said he handled a group of bears in town on Route 1.
The nuisance bear trap Richard set simply closes when the food is eaten, trapping the animal.
“One of the cooks gets there at a quarter to six in the morning, and she is going to give me a call if the door is shut,” Richard said. “Hopefully, we can capture him, relocate him and get him away from people.”
BDN reporter Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this story.