Surprised Issaquah resident discovers bear in garage
May 12, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 4 p.m. May 12, 2011
State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents responded to a bear in a home Tuesday morning, after a surprised Issaquah woman discovered the animal pawing around inside a locked garage.
Issaquah police officers received a call at 11:43 a.m. about a bear inside a garage in the 5000 block of 228th Avenue Southeast, a tree-lined neighborhood near the Sammamish Family YMCA.
State wildlife agents reached the home at about noon and, as the team used Krispy Kreme doughnuts to bait a bear trap in the backyard, the animal escaped from the garage.
Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Kim Chandler said the bear broke a window to enter the garage, possibly late Monday or earlier Tuesday, and then remained inside until residents heard thumping in the garage. The bear escaped from the same broken window.
The garbage container inside the garage likely attracted the animal.
“The smell of that garbage was probably just a little bit too much for him, and he did what he had to do,” Chandler said.
The incident occurred days after a Sammamish man chased bears from a garage and, in a separate incident, bears scooped chicks from a Sammamish coop. Issaquah School District administrators also spotted bears near several campuses in recent weeks.
Chandler said the recent calls related in large part related to 2-year-old black bear cubs. Mother bears leave cubs at about age 2.
“Mom taught them bad habits before she kicked them out,” he said. “Now, they’re on their own and they’re still continuing these bad habits.”
Experts urged residents not to feed the bears, no matter how cute and cuddly the animals seem.
Issaquah Highlands resident Cathy Macchio, Interstate 90 field representative for the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project, said education is important to ensure bear encounters do not result in harm to people or animals.
“With the human population encroaching more and more on bear habitat, we are going be coming into more conflict with bears,” she said.
The nonprofit Grizzly Bear Outreach Project is dedicated to educating Pacific Northwest residents about bears and other wildlife. The statewide black bear population in Washington is estimated between 25,000 and 30,000 animals.
“As human beings living in their territory and sharing the same woods, we just have to know how to respond to bears when we see them,” Macchio said. “We have to educate ourselves in how to coexist with the bears.”
Problems arise after people feed the animals — either by putting out treats for bears or neglecting to secure potential food sources, such as garbage containers, pet food and birdfeeders.
“They’re not interested in eating people,” Macchio said. “They’re just looking for food.”
Bears tend steer clear of people, but the animals start to lose the fear if they become food-conditioned, or come to associate people with food.
“Every bear is very individual, just like human beings, so it’s very hard to predict their behavior,” Macchio said. “So, they’re each going to react differently.”
Usually, wildlife agents trap and relocate nuisance bears can be trapped by wildlife agents and relocated. If relocation fails, a nuisance bear may be destroyed.
The cold spring has created another problem for wildlife agents, because too much snow remains on the ground in the Cascades to release relocated animals.
“We’re really caught between a rock and a hard spot right now,” Chandler said.
Releasing nuisance animals closer to population areas is also undesirable. The state wildlife agency prefers to release bears at least 40 miles and over rough terrain from the incident site to prevent bears from returning.
“If we trap bears, we have no place to put them,” Chandler added. “You can’t take a Sammamish bear out to North Bend and turn him loose, because he’s either a North Bend problem or he comes back to Sammamish.”