Bear Sighting Prompts New Jersey School Lock-in

Several schools in Wayne, New Jersey, were put in lock-in mode as a precaution after a bear sighting in the area Wednesday.

At least three schools near Hamburg Turnpike implemented the precautionary measure.

"It was right in front of us, it crossed the street at Sheffield Road. That was pretty exciting," said parent Laurie Chilenski, who saw the bear as she was with her son. "But we called the police because of all the kids going to school at that hour. 

One school sent out an email blast to parents informing them of the lock-in. 

"I checked with Wayne PD at approximately 11:00 a.m. for an update, and they informed me that they had not seen the bear since the original sighting," an email from Theunis Dey Elementary School read. "However, to ensure the safety of our students and staff, we will be having an indoor recess today."

The email said school dismissal would proceed as usual, but school officials would conduct a search of the grounds prior to letting students out to make sure the area was safe. 

Earlier Wednesday, a resident in the nearby borough of Oakland snapped the above image of a bear and two cubs near the Manitou Elementary School. Police escorted children into the school.

With more bear in this part of New Jersey than in any other part of the country, residents are very cautious. 

"We keep our doors locked, our garbage cans inside. And we have a little dog we keep inside, too," said Mimi Hannon. 

The bear sighting comes three days after a 22-year-old Rutgers University student was killed by a bear while hiking with friends in a northern New Jersey nature preserve. It was the state's first deadly bear attack since 1852.

Follow Pat Battle on Twitter @PatBattle4NY

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