Two elementary schools in the Pennsbury School District were put on lockdown today after a bear was spotted roaming through the woods in Lower Makefield Township.
About 500 children remained inside the Afton and Quarry Hill Elementary Schools for most of the day, and their afternoon buses were cancelled, said Ann Langtry, district spokeswoman.
Parents were contacted through the school's automated phone-calling system and told that they should pick up their children at the schools after dismissal at 3:40 p.m.
District officials closed the schools after being told about sightings of the bear by Lower Makefield police. The bear was first spotted near the border with Upper Makefield and then traveled south, said Capt. Thomas Roche of the Lower Makefield police.
An officer took a picture of the bear while it was roaming through woods at the Brookfield at Farmview development off Woodside Road, Roche said. The development is next to the Garden of Reflection 9-11 Memorial in Lower Makefield.
"We haven't seen it since," Roche said. "Whether it stopped for lunch or a nap, or made a new home in the woods, we don't know."
Roche said the department had consulted with officials of the state Game Commission and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. None thought the bear posed a threat, and they advised that the bear would shy away from people, Roche said.
New Jersey officials suggested charging the bear "to spook" it up a tree, thus making it easier to capture, Roche said.
"Our officers weren't real thrilled with that idea," Roche said. "It's not something we're used to up here."