Local/State

Bear sighting leads to school lockdown in Camden Co.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A school in Camden County was on lockdown after of a bear sighting in the area.

Thomas Richards Elementary, at 934 Lincoln Avenue in Atco, was placed on lockdown because of "the unpredictability of the bear," police said.

The students spent the day indoors while the bear roamed through backyards.

It began on Wednesday morning when police received numerous reports of a large black bear in the area of Ellwood, Richards and Linden avenues.

After police arrived, the bear went into the wood off Jackson Road near the Atco Raceway. NJ Fish and Wildlife said a family of bears has been living in the area behind the Atco Raceway for a few years.

Police managed to take a picture of the bear eating someone's trash. (Pictured above)

The NJ Fish and Wildlife dept. said it is monitoring the situation and is telling residents not to approach the bear, adding that the bear will not be removed from the area.

"It didn't seem aggressive after talking to state rangers, they said the big thing is not to feed the bear, don't approach the bear," Waterford Township Police Lt. Daniel Cormaney said.

They estimate the bear weighs about 300 pounds, nothing to mess with.

Police officers were on hand at dismissal time to keep an eye on the kids as they boarded their buses.

The kids told Action News they were disappointed they didn't get to see the bear.

"Really disappointing. All I saw were birds," second grader A.J. Ryker said.

Their principal, Dr. Willie Maddox, meanwhile, said they have excitement enough without bears joining in.

"We have a lot of excitement in this district. We don't need this one," Maddox said.

The Waterford Township School system said it will put out a message telling parents to accompany their children to the bus stop for the next few days.

The police are warning to residents to take a look around before stepping outside.

If you do see the bear, keep your distance and please don't feed it.

Residents with questions can contact NJ Fish and Wildlife (Bear Division) at (908) 735-8793 or www.njfishandwildlife.com.

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new jersey, camden county, animals, local/state
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