Bear spotted in West Salem neighborhood

Never feed the bears, experts said

Since Saturday, police have been called to the area near Walker Middle School 5 different times, all because of a small bear that's been spotted in the neighborhood. (ODFW)
Since Saturday, police have been called to the area near Walker Middle School 5 different times, all because of a small bear that's been spotted in the neighborhood. (ODFW)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Since Saturday, police have been called to the area near Walker Middle School 5 different times, all because of a small bear that’s been spotted in the neighborhood.

It was the neighborhood cat ‘Bagger’ who alerted Linda Mattson and her husband that something wasn’t right down below.

Rick Swart with ODFW said officials placed live traps in the area, June 1, 2015. (ODFW)
Rick Swart with ODFW said officials placed live traps in the area, June 1, 2015. (ODFW)

“I became curious, and there was a bear coming down the hill between the houses,” Mattson said. “It’s tail had just cleared the small, middle rhododendron.”

The black bear was right in her front yard, just one of 5 recent bear sightings in the Salem area.

“I turned to my husband and said, ‘there’s a bear on the front garden,’ and he thought I was crazy,” Mattson said. “So he got up to check and the bear saw and heard him and just turned around and went back up the hill.”

Cell phone video captured the bear walking up to another home and eating what appears to be some type of food out of a bucket.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife told KOIN 6 News the bear was likely a black cub, between 30-60 pounds. They said the bear somehow managed to cross the Willamette River overnight.

Rick Swart with ODFW said officials placed live traps in the area, and posted signs warning residents about the bear.

“If he’s wandering through the neighborhood, just got misdirected or whatever, and is not habituated to human food, we capture him and let him go out in the woods,” Swart said.

But if the cub is hooked on human food, Swart said his fate is grim.

However, officials remind residents it’s never safe to approach a bear.

If you see a bear, experts recommend you:

— Give a bear a way to escape.
— Step off the trail, slowly walk away
— If you see bear cubs, steer clear. leave the area
— If you see a bear, stay calm. Do not run or make sudden movements. Back away slowly as you face the bear.
— Avoid direct eye contact with the bear
— If a bear stands on his hind legs, he is trying to detect scents; he is not necessarily behaving  aggressively.
— In the unlikely event you are attacked, fight back. Shout, be aggressive, use rocks, sticks, and hands to fend off an attack

Homeowners should also pick up any trash, clean barbecues, put garbage cans in a secure spot, and add lime to compost piles.

Above all, experts say, don’t feed the bears.

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