WDFW: Don’t feed the SW Washington bears

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VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — With at least two confirmed reports of black bears roaming local neighborhoods, Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife is offering advice to help keep bears at bay.

One bear was caught on camera in northeast Vancouver this past week. Authorities now believe this bear is likely the same one killed while trying to cross Interstate 205 in Salmon Creek Wednesday afternoon.

“They don’t understand that cars can’t move on a dime; they don’t understand that the car weighs a ton or more,” said Capt. Murray Schlenker with the WDFW. “That’s not something they have intuitively in them — unless they have a learning experience they really don’t know.”

Capt. Schlenker said the 100 pound male bear is just one of many searching for females right now in the Pacific Northwest. This mating season is stronger than usual, he said, with more female black bears in heat.

There have been about a dozen calls about black bear sightings in the region, but only two sightings have been confirmed: a black bear recently trapped in Camas and the one eventually hit on I-205.

“They’re looking for high protein, high calorie food so bird feeders with seeds or peanut butter are great attractants,” Schlenker said. “The most common problem is pet food outside.”

Wildlife experts recommend double bagging your garage, and getting rid of it quickly. They also recommend cleaning barbecue grills and getting rid of briquettes. And if you see a black bear, they said, don’t surprise it!

“They’ve developed a great nose and sense of hearing, so when they stand up on their hind legs they’re trying to get a smell and hear of you,” Schlenker told KOIN 6 News. “But let them know you’re there, and make plenty of noise. That’s your best defense.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is providing educational pamplets about what to do if you see a bear.

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