EDITORIAL: Early warnings on bears

   There were evidently three black bears of various sizes wandering around Princeton and Montgomery in the past week or so.
   Wildlife experts tell us they were not very dangerous to humans, especially if one knows how to act around them.
   Luckily, no one acted inappropriately and no one was hurt by one of them.
   The authorities, unlike in the past, did not try to catch the bears to tranquilize them and relocate them to a more bear-appropriate location. Instead the procedure these days is if the bear isn’t presenting itself as a danger to simply leave it alone until it wanders away on its own.
   That seemed to work this time.
   But nonetheless we wonder if that is indeed the best policy.
   How and when, for instance, were people made aware of their presence?
   When a bear is sighted in a populated neighborhood, how quickly are neighbors notified? In time to tell their 7-year-old not to play in the backyard next to the woods?
   Information was sent out and posted online about how to act and not to act around the animals, but would a 7-year-old be able to follow the instructions? Heck, would a 40-year-old be able to make noises and wave their arms to scare the bear away, or would he or she panic and make tracks quickly away from a 300-pound animal?
   There is going to be a free public seminar on bear safety on Monday at 7 p.m. in the council meeting room in Witherspoon Hall conducted by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.
   We suppose that will be helpful for those concerned enough to attend. But since these springtime bear visits look they could be an annual event in the future we think the town should develop some sort of early warning bear alert system, especially if bears have been seen in neighboring communities.
   And the schools and police should develop a protocol on precautions to be taken in respect to canceling recess and whether to allow children to walk home on their own.
   It’s great the bears are not as dangerous as we might think, but why take chances?