Bear sighting prompts lockdown at Cranston school

A bear is seen with a bird feeder in a photograph taken by Cranston homeowner Monti Crowley

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A school in Western Cranston was placed on lockdown, students and staff told to ‘shelter in place’ after a bear was sighted on the school grounds Monday, and within a few hours, the bear was spotted in a woman’s backyard, chowing down on the contents of her bird feeder.

“Sir, we’re in a shelter-in-place, which means you can’t come in the building and I can’t come out,” Principal Alex Kanelos told a reporter through the intercom at the door of the Hope Highlands Middle School around mid-morning.

“We’ve got some extra police patrols out in that area just to make sure we don’t see it, neighborhoods are safe,” Mayor Allan Fung told WPRO’s Tara Granahan. “We contacted DEM (the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management) so we’re taking every extra precaution, on behalf … of those kids that are in that school.”

A couple of hours and a few miles away, Monti Crowley was posting close up pictures of the bear, after it had wrestled one of several bird feeders to the ground in the backyard of her home in the Castleton Estates neighborhood.

“He was kind of moseying along in the back and smelled the bird feeders and came right up and took that down like it was a piece of paper,” said Crowley, the wife of Providence College women’s basketball coach James Crowley who was at home with their daughter.

“He just kind of snacked, rolled around a little bit and just was kind of laying there in the sun. So, it was enough time, I FaceTimed my husband, my mother-in-law.” She estimated the bear spent about 20 minutes in her yard, she took pictures through her back window, and called the DEM, which advised her to just leave the bear alone.

“I was pretty excited. I’m an animal lover and I was actually very excited because we were safe, of course, and could just kind of watch this unfold, and he was here so long that I could just share it with other people and take a great video.”

Cranston police, meanwhile, were searching a utility right-of-way about a half-mile away after a man working on a home on Scituate Avenue called to report sighting the bear.


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