A bear sighted near an elementary school in the Anoka County town of Centerville had teachers keeping closer watch during recess Wednesday afternoon.
After Centennial Lakes police warned officials at Centerville Elementary that a small bear had been spotted north of the school, Principal Wayne Whitwam issued a mass voicemail to parents and had staff members on watch, steering children away from a wooded area that borders the playground.
Some teachers chose to skip outdoor recess in light of the sighting.
Police Capt. Ron Nelson said a resident in the 7100 block of Clear Ridge spotted a small bear Wednesday morning and reported it. Officers could not locate the bear.
“We were unable to verify it, but we played it safe,” Nelson said. “We usually try to be proactive.”
Centerville police say they get reports of two to three bear sightings a year.
The sighting came on the opposite side of the metro area from one in Savage, where a bear was shot in the leg by police in late May.
That bear isn’t on the state Department of Natural Resources’ most-wanted list and isn’t likely to be killed unless it becomes a nuisance or a public safety hazard, even after another round of sightings this week, officials said earlier this week.
Several bear sightings also have been reported in Woodbury in recent days.
Five or six bears are spotted in the metro area each year, mostly in the spring, wildlife experts say. Most are young males, searching for their own territory after coming out of winter hibernation and being chased off by other bears.