Cabrini students spot black bear on campus Saturday morning


By Marcus Alvarez
September 28, 2022

A black bear wandering the dense forest.
"Black bear, Blacktail Plateau Drive" by YellowstoneNPS is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Cabrini students reported seeing a black bear on their walk back to their residence halls from the Dixon Center parking lot early Saturday morning.

Joseph Fusco, director of Public Safety at Cabrini University, said, “Early in the morning, around 2:30 to 3:00 a.m., we were made aware that as students were walking back from the Dixon Lot or Lot B to their residence halls, they had seen a black bear in the wooded area between Iadarola center and the chapel. Students were very upset, you know, a little nervous, so they got through the residence halls very quickly and made public safety aware.”

Pathway adjacent to the lush green forest on campus near the Dixon Center.
The pathway from the Dixon Center parking lot to Iadarola.              Photo by Marcus Alvarez.

Cabrini University is unaccustomed to black bears on its campus. This sighting is the second on campus in recent decades, and the community should be cautious and aware of what to do in the event of another sighting.

“My assistant director, Diana Pohl, has been here 26 years and over this past year [there have] been two sightings on campus, since then she’s never had one,” Fusco said.

Cabrini is used to having deer, foxes, and other small, native North American animals. But unlike those harmless creatures, black bears pose a threat. Despite their dense, heavy appearance, black bears are agile creatures. They can run up to 35 miles per hour, climb trees, and swim. The slightest movement can trigger a most dangerous conflict.

Fusco said that during the past sighting on April 28, 2022, a bear was spotted by Cabrini’s cottage close to King of Prussia Road. However, this time, the bear was spotted “at the center of our campus,” said Fusco.

The Public Safety office reacted quickly and initiated their protocol, immediately calling animal control. Delaware County Animal Control sent out two units to do a sweep of the campus. Fusco said Delaware County Animal Control could not confirm a bear on campus and left afterward.

Public Safety sent an officer to Cabrini’s welcome center after 3:00 a.m. to notify any oncoming vehicles of the warning and offered every vehicle a personal escort to a safe place on campus.

“If we found any students on campus, they were going to be told to get into our vans, and we were going to drive them back to the residence halls. Public safety was making rounds in the vehicles,” Fusco said.

Pathway adjacent to the lush green forest on campus near the Dixon Center facing the Iadarola Center.
Iadarola Center pathways. Photo by Marcus Alvarez.

Public Safety urges students, faculty, staff, and the Cabrini community to be prepared and knowledgeable about bears in the future. Fusco says students should contact Public Safety immediately to alert animal control.

Malik Washington, a senior political science major, and a resident assistant said, “I was aware that there was a bear sighting on campus … As a resident assistant, there are always situations on campus and … it’s important to remain calm so the residents can remain calm.”

Here are tips for a possible encounter with a bear recommended by Fusco and the Pennsylvania Game Commission:

Baby black bear running through a dense, green forest.
“Assume there’s a larger bear behind them,” said Fusco. “Black Bear Cub” by DenSmith is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
  • Do not run or make quick movements.
  • Alert the bear with noise to give it space and time to leave.
  • Back out of an encounter slowly.
  • Contact Public Safety.
  • Do not go near, provoke, or feed the bear.
  • Stay calm.

Text messages and email notifications were also sent out on Saturday at 3:09 a.m. to warn students on campus. Fusco said that they only notified students and people on campus to prevent mass hysteria since they felt it only affected people on campus.

“I believe it would be beneficial if the school invested in monitors that played over a loudspeaker in the residence halls to alert residents of things like this,” Washington said.

Cabrini’s students, faculty, staff, and the Cabrini community should sign up for the emergency notification system that sends text and email notifications in case of any other dangerous situations on campus. Information to sign up is on Cabrini University’s website under Public Safety.

iMessage screen of two text bubbles both warning about a bear sighting.
Public Safety text notifications.

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Marcus Alvarez

Hello, my name is Marcus Alvarez! I'm currently studying at New York University pursuing a journalism career. At Cabrini, I served as a reporter in my second year at Cabrini and became Managing Editor in my fifth semester. As a journalist now and in the future, I hope to cover social justice issues and investigate problems facing my community. A fun fact about me is that I am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia.

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