Bear near Beattie Elementary in Fort Collins forces school to lock doors

2022-08-26 20:58:20 By : Ms. Jane wu

Update: 6 p.m. Thursday: The black bear involved was captured by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Fort Collins Police Services and Fort Collins Natural Areas staff Thursday afternoon and transported to an area outside of the city, according to the wildlife agency's Twitter account

A black bear was spotted near Beattie Elementary on Thursday morning, prompting Poudre School District to place the school on secure status.

Original reports had the bear being captured but that is inaccurate, according to Kristin Cannon, Colorado Parks and Wildlife deputy regional manager.

Cannon said by the time a wildlife officer responded to the sighting, the bear had already moved from where a resident reported it. She said it was last seen running in a ditch north of the elementary school, located at Swallow Road and Meadowlark Avenue in central Fort Collins.

She said wildlife officers are unsure of the bear's location and are not actively pursing it. The bear was described as small and possibly a yearling. She said if the public sees the bear to give it space, not pursue it and report the location to Fort Collins wildlife officers at 970-472-4300.

"We believe the bear is likely in the area and has found a safe, quiet place to stay during the day before moving out tonight,'' she said. "We don’t want to chase the bear around the city as it might get hit by a vehicle. It may take a few days for it to move out but that is what we are hoping for.''

A resident called to report the bear, according to a Fort Collins Police Services Twitter post. Social media posts reported the bear in the same area, with one photo in a Nextdoor post showing the bear on the Beattie playground area.

The school resumed normal operations around 9 a.m., according to Beattie Elementary Principal Dave Patterson. Secure status means doors are locked but school remains in session.

Bears are more apt to be found in towns and cities along the foothills this time of year as they get ready for hyperphagia by spending up to 20 hours a day trying to eat more than 20,000 calories to fatten up for winter, according to the state wildlife agency.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives a handful or more reports of bears in Fort Collins annually. Area 4, which includes Fort Collins and the northern half of Larimer County, had 68 reports of bears last year, which was a 56% decline from 2020, according to the agency's bear report.

In November 2021, a mountain lion was spotted near O'Dea Elementary School, located at Tulane Drive and Princeton Road.

Coloradoan reporter Bethany Osborn contributed to this story.

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Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife