Camas High School is known for having local residents come out to support its athletic teams.
But the newest spectator isn’t exactly a welcome addition.
The Papermaker cross country team had to relocate two meets in the past seven days due to sightings of a black bear or bears at the Round Lake course.
Recently, a meet against Evergreen was moved across the street to Heritage Trail at Lacamas Lake, after some runners who were warming up encountered the bear.
Apparently, the black bear is a big fan of cross country, as it showed up again last Tuesday during the Camas-Skyview meet.
The junior varsity girls race was underway, and as they were making their way through the course to the finish line, a Skyview varsity runner who was warming up for his race, shouted, “There’s a bear!” according to an eyewitness account.
The Camas School District and police department were called. Girls who did not finish the race were allowed to run with the varsity team at Heritage Trail.
After five sightings in approximately 10 days, the school district has decided to halt all off-campus activity at the lake, including physical education class runs and walks, cross country practices, a middle school cross country meet yesterday, and any science activities.
“Because Camas is a blended suburban-rural area, residents occasionally still see wildlife such as raccoons, bobcats, and now apparently bears within the city limits,” said Steve Marshall, CHS principal. “However, to the best of my knowledge, until two weeks ago no CHS student had encountered any of these animals. So, although we take precautions to make sure our activities are well-organized and supervised, it is in our students’ best interest that we steer clear of Round Lake for the next few weeks.”
The Clark County Parks Department has not closed the park, but has posted signs to inform users that there have been recent bear sightings near the trails.
“Once this advisory has been lifted or we receive confirmation from the Department of Fish and Wildlife that the bear has been captured or migrated out of the area, our district will discuss when and how to safely resume our use of this park,” Marshall said.
Sgt. Scot Boyles of the Camas Police Department said he does not recall ever hearing about this many bear sightings before.
“There has been an occasional sighting, but this has been pretty repetitive,” he said. “If you see one, don’t interact with it. Walk away slowly and call the authorities.”
Those who see a bear are asked to call Camas Police at 834-4151 or Fish and Wildlife at 696-6211.