By CLAIRE ST. JOHN
A bear that became a campus nuisance at Summerville High School has been trapped and killed by California Department of Fish and Game officers.
But the Tuolumne campus still remains home to a menagerie of wild and feral animals that both fascinate and peacefully coexist with students and teachers. Snakes, skunks, raccoons, foxes, deer, coyotes and innumerable feral cats have caused few problems over the years.
The bear was an exception.
Although the idea of having a real-life version of the school mascot roaming the campus might seem romantic, this California black bear soon became a pain in the pompoms, dragging trash across campus nightly and collapsing the cab of a maintenance truck when the animal wanted to get a better view than was afforded from the bed of the pickup.
Although school administrator are glad the problems are over, they were sorry the bear had to be killed.
"We were under the understanding that it was going to be relocated," said Principal Dave Urquhart.
But nuisance bears are notorious for returning to their old stomping grounds even if they're moved many miles away, said California Department of Fish and Game Capt. Dan Franck.
And if they do take to their new homes, they fall back on their old, disruptive habits and have to be re-trapped.
The deceased bear was not the first to visit this fall: During the Summerville homecoming last month, a smaller bruin skirted campus grounds, giving the few that sighted it a boost of school spirit. That bear has not been sighted since homecoming.
But the big bear's demise and the little bear's absence hardly leaves the Tuolumne school animal free. Summerville may look like a regular campus but it also functions as a sort of free-range zoo.
Students are used to litters of feral kittens being born around campus and learning to dive into the school's drainage grates for shelter.