YORK – Students in Dover Area High School’s agricultural mechanics class are building a bear trap for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Expected to be completed this month, the trap features a cylinder mounted to a trailer frame with a trap mechanism inside. When a wayward bruin goes for the bait, a swinging door would clang shut and lock.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Kyle Jury said the York County Game Commission Office doesn’t have a trap of its own. Last year, when the commission captured a 125-pound male bear near the Susquehanna River not far from Airville, officers had to borrow a trap from another county, he said.
“It’s a huge project for these students to take on,” Jury said.
Teacher Ronald Weaner said his classes have built storage sheds, trailer frames, hay feeders and the like over the years, so he was confident in his student’s abilities.
“I had most of the students last year in welding class,” Weaner said, adding it’s a “fabulous learning experience for our kids.”
The dozen or so students started the project with a drainage culvert like those used in highway construction projects and built a trailer frame under it. Weaner said the axle was bought, but students built the rest of the device from scratch. Kinsley Construction, Inc. donated the culvert.
Recently, students worked on grinding down sharp edges. They’ll install the trap mechanism and swinging door.
Weaner said the project is being completed at no cost to taxpayers.
Students said the project challenged their budding skills in welding and metal work.
“It’s great,” said senior Jaydan Aldinger of Dover Township, who welded the trailer frame. “I like working on stuff like this -- it’s better than book work.”
Other students said they usually work on smaller projects.
“I didn’t know we could pull it off,” said Morgan Wagner, a junior.
Jury said he works in the northern half of York County where he received six calls from residents who spotted bears last year. Countywide, only the one bear near Airville was trapped.
He said bear sightings are more common in places like Cumberland or Perry counties, but young males leaving their mothers may wander into York County in search of a new home. In all, about 18,000 bears live in Pennsylvania, he said.
He said the commission uses traps for research into bear habits or when responding to nuisance calls, such as when a bear enters a populated area. The commission weighs, measures and tags the captured bears, and a small eyetooth is removed, before they’re released back into the wild.
The bear captured near Airville was released in Perry County, Jury said.