July 29, 2014
Please don’t feed the bears, ever
“A fed bear is a dead bear.”
Those were true words from an expert who spoke to The Issaquah Press several years ago about the bears people were reporting in their yards and trashcans in the Issaquah area.
They are still true now. We have built our homes and businesses in their yards, and we are going to come into contact with wildlife.
We are the stewards of this land, and we have a responsibility to keep those animals (along with our neighbors) safe. That means letting animals be when we encounter them. Don’t hassle them. Don’t try to pet them. Don’t feed them.
Bears regularly prowl through the city, including in the Overdale Park area, south of Issaquah, in the downtown area and throughout the highlands. They are sighted annually on school grounds throughout the Issaquah School District. In May 2011, a surprised woman found one in her garage near the Sammamish Family YMCA.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers recently learned about a woman off Issaquah-Hobart Road who was feeding bears 5-gallon buckets of birdseed. The woman thought she was helping the between six and 10 bears that have been seen on the property, but she was actually hurting them — not to mention likely scaring residents with a parade of bears in the neighborhood.
When bears learn they can get food from a source other than in the wild, they become habituated. Not only is that bad for people, because the bears will keep coming back for more, but it’s also bad for the majestic animals.
Once they become a problem (habituated and reported to officials regularly), bears have to be captured and moved. It isn’t always safe, for the people or the bears.
Officers have to guess at the weight of a bear to tranquilize it, and like medical procedures, things can go wrong. The tranquilized bear is then taken to a mountainous area.
The bear, which has become accustomed to eating what people provide, suddenly has to remember how to hunt and forage on its own, on top of competing with bears already in the area.
Let the wild animals stay wild. Don’t feed the bears.