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Watch: Principal sprints away after bear jumps out of dumpster behind West Virginia school

Bear in dumpster startles principal
Principal gets startled after finding bear in school dumpster 00:47

A black bear gave a West Virginia principal quite the wake-up call when it emerged — growling and roaring — from a dumpster outside an elementary school. The dramatic encounter was captured on surveillance video.

Zela Elementary School principal James Marsh was surprised to discover the bear had somehow managed to get inside the dumpster over the weekend even after the school installed a lock bar. As Marsh was unlocking the bin Monday, the bear began pushing open the lid.

"That will wake a person up," Marsh said Tuesday in a phone interview. "That was 7:15 a.m. If you are not already awake, that will wake you up."

Marsh darted away once the bear's head appeared. The bear then jumped out and ran off in an encounter that was recorded by a school security camera and has since being shared widely across social media.

West Virginia Bear Scare
In this image from video provided by Nicholas County Schools, Zela Elementary School Principal James Marsh reacts after a black bear jumps out of a trash dumpster outside the school in Summersville, W. Va., on Monday, May 1, 2023.  / AP

"He looked like he was scared, too - as scared as I was," Marsh said. "He might not be back."

"Who says principals don't deserve hazard pay????" the Nicholas County Board of Education said in a Facebook post accompanying the video.

The school in Nicholas County, about 70 miles east of the state capital of Charleston, installed the lock on the dumpster last week after noticing some torn up garbage bags outside.

"It was so big, it was able to pull that lock bar in and out all weekend long," he said.

After Marsh's experience, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources came and made modifications to the lock.

"We will see how it does," Marsh said. "He didn't come back last night."

Marsh told CBS affiliate WOWK-TV that he showed the video to his students, who found great amusement in it.

"I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe afterwards," said Serenity Taylor and Ava Breedlove, fifth graders at Zela Elementary School. "We just laughed so hard we couldn't breathe."

Last month, a black bear bit a woman walking her dog in Connecticut, officials say.

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