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Parks & Recreation

Posted on: April 4, 2017

Bear Aware: Take Precautions to Prevent Conflicts

Issaquah is bear country. Throughout the Pacific Northwest, spring and summer are bear season.

Recent reports of black bear activity serve as a reminder to take precautions to avoid bear encounters. Unsecured garbage containers, pet food and birdfeeders can attract hungry bears looking for a meal.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) offers tips to prevent conflicts between bears and humans:

  • Never intentionally feed bears or other wild animals.
  • Keep garbage cans in a garage or another secure area until collection day.
  • Remove pet food from areas accessible to wildlife.
  • Take down seed and hummingbird birdfeeders until winter.
  • Clean up fallen fruit.
  • Thoroughly clean barbecue grills after each use.
When camping, keep a clean campsite by thoroughly cleaning all cooking utensils after use and sealing uneaten food in airtight containers stored in bear-proof canisters away from sleeping areas.

If you happen to encounter a bear, WDFW recommends the following steps:
  • Do not run from the animal.
  • Pick up small children.
  • Stand tall, wave your arms above your head and shout.
  • Do not approach the animal and be sure to leave it an escape route.
  • Try to get upwind of the bear so that it can identify you as a human and leave the area.
Two state laws prohibit leaving food or food waste in places where it can attract bears and other wild carnivores. Unintentionally or "negligently" feeding bears can bring a fine of $87, while the fine for intentional feeding can be as much as $1,000.

Conflicts between humans and bears tend to subside by mid-summer, when berries and other natural foods become available, and then pick up again in fall before the animals enter their dens.

Learn more about wildlife safety and living in bear country from WDFW's
Living With Wildlife program and the nonprofit organization Western Wildlife Outreach. Issaquah's waste service provider, Recology CleanScapes, offers the wildlife-resistant carts to customers.
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