Children find a bear on the storytelling trail behind the primary school

A group of youngsters and their trail guide encountered a bear on June 18 while on the Storybook Trail behind New London Elementary School, located at 1 Wildcat Drive.

New London Police received the report of the sighting which was confirmed by the adult man with the group of children, according to a police report.

The group was walking and reading a book along the Lynette-McGowan-Hissong Memorial Storybook Trail, located between the school board office and the entrance to the elementary school side of campus.

A child and his dog cross the Storybook Trail behind New London Elementary School where a bear was spotted on June 18. (Heather Chapin–The Morning Journal)

“This is the first time we’ve seen a bear in this town,” said Chief Constable Joseph Hicks, who has worked for the New London Police Department for 19 years.

Authorities are asking citizens to report any further sightings and got more information about another possible sighting on their Facebook post announcing the June 18 bear sighting, Hicks said.

A resident believes he saw a bear on Chenango Road in New London Township, which is just east of the small rural village and recounted his encounter on the New London Police Department’s Facebook post.

“I thought I saw a small one a month ago near the Chenango and N (North) Railroad (Street) tracks but I blew it as my eyes were playing tricks or a big dog…maybe be that I saw a bear,” said Jason Casey, the author of the Facebook post.

“I’d bet it was now,” Casey told The Morning Journal on June 20.

The large animal Casey saw definitely had a high back with a loaf, he said.

“I convinced myself it was an injured St. Bernard or something,” Casey said. “I’ve seen bears up close in Pennsylvania and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, though. It wasn’t a St. Bernard.

Black bears are considered an endangered species in Ohio and can be found in forested habitats in the eastern half of Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.

The black bear is the most common species of bear in North America and its name can be ambiguous as the species can range in color from chocolate brown, cinnamon brown, blue-black and white, the website says.

An adult black bear can weigh between 150 and 700 pounds.

But the average male bear weighs around 300 pounds while females weigh around 175 pounds, the website says.

When standing on their hind legs, bears can be up to six feet tall, according to the website.

However, while standing on all fours, most adult black bears stand about two to three feet tall at the shoulder, the website says.

“The majority of bears seen in Ohio are thought to be young male bears dispersing from Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” according to the website. “However, in the absence of a resident female, male bears are unlikely to remain in an area for an extended period of time, so it is expected that most of these male bears will not ultimately remain in Ohio.”

Stephanie O’Grady, media spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, did not return a request for comment or additional information.

Ohio’s Storybook Trails is a program founded in 2019 in collaboration with libraries across the state bringing children’s books to life in natural settings, according to its website.

Storytelling trails are lined with pages and laid out on sturdy posts to read from a children’s book along the nature trail, allowing children to walk to read each page until they reach the end of the book and the path.

They have become a popular activity in many cities across the state and can be lavish or simple, depending on the community.

“The Ohio Department of Natural Resources launched the Storybook Trail program in 2019 to promote the importance of literacy, healthy living, and connecting with nature,” its website states.

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