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SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — A small bear cub roaming around town caused a big distraction Monday afternoon, with Berwick Academy officials canceling all after school sports and dispatch centers receiving numerous calls.
Berwick Academy chose to cancel afternoon sports for cautionary reasons, school officials said. An alert sent out by the school to parents stated a bear cub had been spotted on school grounds. No students were harmed during the incident.
According to a police dispatcher, at approximately 3:23 p.m. a bear cub was reported in the area around Norton Street, a short distance from both Berwick Academy and the downtown area. Although the dispatcher stated fish and game wardens were called to assist the wayward cub, they refused to respond, instead instructing the public to leave the bear alone and let it run into the woods.
The bear cub was later spotted walking along Route 236 by Old Mill Road in South Berwick.
Lane Klosner, a sophomore at Marshwood High School, said she was walking her 10-year-old brother, Benjamin, home from school when the cub ran across the road right in front of them on Paul Street.
“At first I thought it was just a black puppy running around,” Lane said of her 3:30 p.m. sighting. “And then about 30 seconds later we both realized, ‘Oh my gosh that was a bear!'”
She estimated the bear cub was about 100 feet from them when it ran across the street. A short while later a police cruiser and fire truck responded to the scene, she said.
Lane said her younger brother, who attends Marshwood Great Works School, was especially excited by the encounter.
“He’s really into animals,” she said. “And his goal has always been to see an eagle, a moose, and a bear — now he only has a moose left to see.”
Approximately three hours later, another bear spotter said the cub was up a tree on Academy Street at roughly 6:30 p.m. The woman told Foster’s via email the bear was in her neighbor’s yard walking around before it became dark and quickly climbed up the tree. The woman says she called a game warden, who elected to do nothing.
Officials at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife could not be reached for comment Monday night. According to the organization’s website, Maine has more than 25,000 black bears — more than any other eastern state. They are omnivores, eating both plants and animals.
The website says if a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. Shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. Most bears are timid enough to be scared away by yelling, waving or banging pots.
Distributed by MCT Information Services