An adult black bear emerged from a Coronado High School culvert about 1:30 p.m. Monday, giving students in the cafeteria a surprise peek at a Colorado Springs wildlife encounter.
Wildlife authorities and police arrived hoping for a peaceful confrontation, and the 200-pound bear evidently was in no mood for a fight.
Using rubber buckshot, bean bags and pepper spray, officials got the animal to retreat, and it ran from the area, thus eluding a first “strike” incurred when an animal poses a confrontation.
“We were determined not to hurt the bear,” said Bill Vogrin, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The bear likely will return, but it probably won’t be destroyed because the next visit will be only its first strike.
“If a bear knows it has a consistent food source, it will continue to come back to that same spot,” said Vogrin.
The school’s unsecured dumpster behind the cafeteria likely attracted the bear, and wildlife officials believe it hibernated through the winter in the culvert, which is used to drain the school’s indoor pool.
School officials promised to lock the dumpster to deter bears and will consider covering the culvert, Vogrin said.
“As the days become warmer, we are definitely going to see an increase in bears coming out of hibernation. It’s important that people be vigilant in securing their garbage, bird feeders, pet food and any other food source that could attract bears,” he warned.
Area Wildlife Manager Frank McGee and Assistant Wildlife Manager Cody Wigner handled the scaring of the bear.