Living with Wildlife

Unsecured garbage containers, pet food and birdfeeders can attract hungry wildlife, including bears and cougars, looking for a meal.

Safety Tips

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.
  • Thoroughly clean barbecue grills after each use.
  • Take down birdfeeders until later in summer.
  • 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.

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.

Bear Encounters

If you encounter a bear, WDFW offers the following advice:

  • Don't run.
  • 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.