West Virginia Elementary School Principal Has Scary Run In With Bear

“Who says principals don’t deserve hazard pay?”

An elementary school principal got the shock of a lifetime when he came face to face with a black bear in a dumpster behind the school.  

James Marsh was trying to unlock the dumpster behind Zela Elementary School when the dumpster diving bear popped its head out.  

“You throw stuff in a dumpster,” Marsh told WSAZ, “But you just don’t expect anything that big to come out of it.”

Zela Elementary School Bear

Nicholas County Board of Education

The ordeal - that was caught on surveillance camera - was shared to the school district’s Facebook page with the caption, “who says principals don’t deserve hazard pay???”

The video makes it clear that both Marsh and the bear startled each other, but Marsh said it was the sound the bear made that scared him the most. 

“It let out a pretty loud growl or roar actually, and that was about the most intimidating thing of the whole event,” Marsh said.  

After they made eye contact, Marsh ran in one direction and the bear jumped out of the dumpster and ran in the opposite direction.  

Marsh then stopped and put his hands on his knees and tried to regain his composure. 

The scary encounter wasn’t all bad, though - Marsh said his students think the video is “just hilarious,” and even told him they were impressed with how fast he can run “for his age.” 

A few little girls did offer some constructive criticism however, and reminded Marsh that when you come in contact with a bear, “you aren’t supposed to run.”  

Nicholas County School District presented Principal Marsh with a stuffed bear in “recognition of his valor and bravery--well at least for his speed and agility.”

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources returned to the school after the incident, Marsh told WSAZ, to modify the dumpster to prevent any more bears from gaining access.  

“We want [the bear] to go find his meals someplace else,” Marsh said. 

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