Brown bear gives real-life demo of football move to school team

Posted: Thursday, August 02, 2001

KENAI - Football players had just finished working on a drill called the "bear crawl" at Skyview High School in Soldotna when they got a glimpse of the real thing.

Coach Wade Marcuson said a brown bear showed up during football practice about 9:30 a.m. Monday.

"The bear was milling around, tearing down stumps. It looked like she was having a good time," he said.

The players had just finished the bear crawl drill, and assistant coach Greg Zorbas noted the bear's presence.

"He said, 'We're going to stop for a moment. We've got a demonstration going on over here. That's what I want you to be - low to the ground,"' Marcuson said.

The day before, the bear killed a moose near the gate to the high school driveway.

"It didn't stand up until it got to the top of the hill, but it stopped and looked at us through the fence. I kind of wondered, what if the fence was not there?" said Zorbas. "She loped up to the top of the hill close to the birch trees, stood up, tore down a stump, and then she was gone."

But not far. Since the sow with two cubs killed the moose, it has been seen several times in the area.

Athletic director Dan Creel said school officials met with Fish and Game biologists, who advised that trapping and relocating the bears would do little good, since relocated bears generally return quickly to their original stomping grounds.

Marcuson said he told the football players, about 70 students, that they have a special opportunity.

"We told the kids, 'You don't have too many football camps where you see a brown bear,"' he said. "We told the kids not to be over there, not to go looking for the kill, to stay together and to stay close to the building. I think as long as we're together and by the building, we're OK."

Mike Crawford, a visitor from Kent, Wash., also took advantage of the opportunity to observe the three bears - at a safe distance.

"I stayed until it got dark and watched the bear eating," Crawford told the Peninsula Clarion.

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