Exercise caution with wild animals on campus

October 2016
Image captured by student Dalton Henry of a black bear moving across the Utica campus September 15, 2016.

Image captured by student Dalton Henry of a black bear moving across the Utica campus September 15, 2016.

Keeping in mind the rural location of the SUNY Poly in Utica, the campus regularly gets its fair share of wildlife – deer, turkeys, foxes, to name a few.

But this Fall semester, there was one other resident of the nearby woods that was spotted taking a quick tour of campus – a black bear.

Appearing around 9 am on September 15 (in no means a slow or quiet time on campus), the black bear was spotted by the F Parking lot, running past Oriskany Hall. it certainly was a unique site for some.

In today’s age of social media and smartphones, word and photos of the sighting spread quicker than the bear itself sprinting across campus.

And while the bear seems to have been merely passing through, it certainly served as a gentle reminder that while there was no threat or danger to those on campus, we share this environment with nature.

It’s with that in mind that Chief of University Police Gary Bean chose to issue a notice to students, faculty, and staff, reminding them to exercise caution with the wild animals we share this world with.

“We want people to be aware of the fact that they may at times be wandering through our area and on our campus so we just want them to keep their distance away,” Chief Bean told WUTR Eyewitness News. “And we’ve had no concerns for safety, just that we’ve had a bear sighting.”

Chief Bean asks that those on campus be aware of their surroundings, taking into account the wooded areas surrounded campus and the many animals that call it home.

If by chance, you do come across the black bear, Chief Bean cautions to never feed or approach the bear.

“Bears are curious,” Chief Bean stated in his safety notice. “They spend a great deal of time exploring for food, and this can bring them close to humans. Please make sure your trash is disposed of properly and all trash receptacles have their lids closed.”

It’s also important to remember that bears are intelligent, Chief Bean advises. They learn from experience, so if an activity results in food, the bear will repeat that activity. However, if an encounter with a human does not result in a reward of food, they’ll have no other reason to have contact.

Should you encounter a bear, Chief Bean advises that you do your best to remain calm, consider your escape route and be sure not to run away from it and not to make direct eye contact with the bear. Direct eye contact could be perceived by the bear as a challenge. Instead, slowly back away.