Increased Human and Bear Interactions within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

EVERETT, Wash., July, 30 2019— Bears have been visiting campgrounds within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in large numbers this year. Driven in by an array of attractive scents originating from picnic areas and campgrounds, bears have been finding easy meals in Forest visitor trash cans, coolers, and unsecured storage containers.

 

As summer winds down, bears begin to concentrate on storing fat reserves and become much less wary of people as they remain more present in areas where meals come easily. While they can seem social or tame, they are not, these bears are hungry!

 

It may be tempting to offer food to bears that seem to be tame, but it is never a good idea. Bears who begin to associate people with an easy meal, become problem bears and potentially very dangerous. These habituated bears often can’t be scared away, or re-located to other areas. They will continue to return to areas occupied by humans and ultimately will need to be euthanized.

 

Black bears are quite common within Washington State with population size estimates around 25,000. They can often be mistaken as grizzly bears by appearing dark or even light brown in color. While not as large, black bears can grow to around 300 pounds and can inflict a great deal of damage to people and property. Most conflicts with bears are caused in part by human negligence. Easy access to trash, improper food storage, and intentional feedings can all result in serious consequences.

 

If you encounter a black bear problem, and it is not an emergency, contact the nearest regional Department of Fish and Wildlife office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you would like to report a nuisance bear by phone, the number to call is (425)775-1311.

 

If you need to report a non-emergency problem when Department of Fish and Wildlife offices are closed, contact law enforcement.

 

Help protect your fellow outdoor enthusiasts by making sure bears won’t find easy meals in your camp site, along the trail, or at your favorite fishing hole! For information on how to camp & hike with bears or what to do if you encounter a bear, please review the following safety tips:

 

Encountering a Bear

• NEVER RUN. Running can encourage the bear to chase you.

• Remain calm, pick up small children, restrain pets, and be careful not to startle the bear.

• Let the bear know you are human by talking to it softly and calmly.

• Continue to face the bear while backing away slowly and watching for changes in behavior.

• Look for signs of stress which are often identified by vocalizations, jaw popping, and flattened ears.

• If the bear shows signs of stress and you are unable to give it enough space, it may approach or charge you. Keep standing your ground, moving away slowly, and keep talking calmly. Don’t yell or throw rocks. If the bear charges, stop backing away and use your bear spray.

• If the bear shows no signs of stress and is approaching, make yourself look big and scary by outstretching your arms, holding packs above your head, making loud noises, throwing rocks, and preparing to use your bear spray.

• Most black bear attacks are non-defensive predatory attacks which so little to no signs of stress. If you are attacked by a non-defensive bear, fight back as aggressively as possible!

 

Hiking in Bear Country

• Never feed wildlife!

• Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

• Read all signs at trailheads.

• Stay alert, do not wear headphones and cautiously approach any blind corners in the trail.

• Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and keep it accessible.

• Hike in groups, keep children with you, and keep dogs leashed.

• Make plenty of noise; a startled bear is often a dangerous bear.

• On extended trips, always keep food and other attractants in bear resistant containers.

• If you see a bear, maintain a safe distance and alter your route to avoid the bear. Never block a bear’s travel route.

• If you see a cub alone, don't approach. Momma bear could be nearby.

 

Camping in Bear Country

• Never feed wildlife.

• Visit or call the local Forest Service office to learn about laws, requirements, and/or guidelines for properly storing food while camping within the area.

• Keep a clean camp site. Bears are attracted to dirty dishes, cooking messes, food scraps, trash, urine, and even dirty diapers.

• Don’t store even tiny amounts of food or scented items such as lotion, deodorant, or perfumes in a tent. A bear has a sense of smell 7 times that of a blood hound and these items may peak their interest.

• Do not leave food unattended at a campsite or in your vehicle.

• If a bear shows up at your campsite, make noise and try to get the bear to leave, then notify the host or a local Forest Ranger.

• Use bear-resistant food lockers and dumpsters where provided or bring your own. For information on bear resistant products, visit the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s site at http://igbconline.org/bear-resistant-products/ .

• Do not store garbage at camp site. Use a designated dumpster.

• At an undeveloped camping location, keep your sleeping area away from where you cook, store food & trash, and where you decide to relieve yourself.

 

Bear Spray

• If you decide to carry bear spray, make it readily accessible as encounters can quickly without much notice.

• Bear spray is a weapon so please treat it as such and never point it at anyone.

• Never leave bear spray in a hot vehicle!

• Partially used and expired cans should be thrown away or used for training.

• For information on how to use bear spray or where to get it, visit the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s site at http://igbconline.org/bear-spray/ .

 

 

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