See a dumpster-diving black bear and school principal terrify one another

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An elementary school principal and a black bear came face-to-face in an interaction that sent them both running in fear outside a West Virginia school.

The terrifying yet funny encounter happened shortly after 7 a.m. Monday when Zela Elementary School Principal James Marsh unlocked a dumpster behind the school, according to WDTV.

As he unchained the flaps atop the dumpster, the large head of a black bear — followed by the rest of the animal — crawled out of the trash receptacle. The principal quickly dashed in one direction while the startled bear just as quickly ran the other way. Marsh then walked back toward the school where a witness standing in a doorway pointed to where the bear ran before disappearing out of view.

“Who says principals don’t deserve hazard pay?” Nicholas County Board of Education asked on its Facebook page, which included video of Marsh’s scare.

The black bear is the state animal of West Virginia. They’re commonly found throughout the Mountain State and their numbers are growing. West Virginia’s website said in 2022 no fatal attacks by black bears had been confirmed in the state, though Marsh’s reaction appeared to be a master class in how-not-to deal with a bear encounter.

“Do not run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground,” the state advises. “Bears can run as fast as a racehorse, both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals.”

An adult black bear can weigh as much as 660 lbs., according to the International Association for Bear Research and Management