Investigators identify suspect in bear shooting

November 23, 2010

State Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators last week identified the person believed to be responsible for shooting a black bear in Issaquah in mid-November.

Veterinarians later euthanized the bear cub, because a bullet wound had left the animal paralyzed.

State wildlife agents had not released the name of the suspect by Nov. 22. Capt. Bill Heibner credited residents in the neighborhood near Highlands Drive Northeast and Southeast Black Nugget Road for offering tips to aid the investigation.

“We did have help, not just from neighbors, but also from others in the community that had heard or seen things,” he said. “That was extremely helpful in this investigation, and we appreciate the public’s support for giving us tips and leads like that.”

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Investigators identify suspect in Issaquah bear shooting

November 16, 2010

NEW — 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16, 2010

State Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators identified the person believed to be responsible for shooting a black bear in Issaquah last week.

Veterinarians later euthanized the bear cub, because a bullet wound had left the animal paralyzed.

State wildlife agents did not release the suspect’s name or arrest the person Tuesday. The information gathered during the investigation will be sent to the King County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if charges should be filed.

State wildlife agents tranquilized and captured the bear Nov. 11 after the homeowner reported a trapped bear in a creek on the property. The animal was then transported to PAWS in Lynnwood.

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State wildlife agents investigate bear shooting

November 16, 2010

PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager Dondi Byrne, state wildlife officer Nicholas Jorg and PAWS Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee (from left) work to stabilize a bear injured in Issaquah. Contributed

Gunshot wound prompted veterinarians to euthanize paralyzed animal

The black bear trapped in a damp ditch near Issaquah Highlands puzzled state wildlife agents.

The animal — moaning in pain and hypothermic from the frigid rainwater in the ditch — did not appear to be injured as state Department of Fish and Wildlife agents scrambled to diagnose the tranquilized bear. The animal later had to be euthanized due to a bullet wound.

The wildlife team had responded Nov. 11 to a call from a homeowner concerned about a bear cub trapped in a logjam in a backyard near Highlands Drive Northeast and Southeast Black Nugget Road.

“It didn’t appear to have any injuries,” Capt. Bill Heibner said. “It appeared to be a very healthy bear with a very thick black coat, ready for hibernation and very fat.”

Even after wildlife agents transported the sedated animal to a Lynnwood wildlife facility, clues remained elusive.

“We had a dickens of a time finding anything wrong with him,” Heibner said. “There just didn’t appear to be anything.”

So, the team transferred the otherwise-healthy animal to a pen to see if the animal recovered overnight.

“We put him in the pen and figured that in 12 hours he would work through the anesthetic and the immobilization drugs,” Heibner said. “As we put him in there, we developed the film on that second set of X-rays and discovered a bullet had lodged in his spine.”

The bear — a male about a year old and weighing 135 pounds — had to be euthanized the next morning.

The gunshot caused permanent nerve damage and left the rear half of the bear paralyzed. The mystery lingered after veterinarians had to put the animal down.

“Once that bullet was discovered, of course, that added two new chapters to this whole thing as far as I’m concerned,” Heibner said.

The discovery prompted a criminal investigation.

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Veterinarians euthanize injured Issaquah bear

November 12, 2010

NEW — 9:25 a.m. Nov. 12, 2010

A black bear discovered in Issaquah with a bullet lodged in its spine has been euthanized.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents discovered the black bear trapped in a backyard near the Issaquah Highlands on Thursday morning.

The wildlife veterinarian at PAWS, a Lynnwood wildlife rescue center, examined the bear Friday morning and determined the animal had lost the use of its hind legs. Sylvia Moss, a spokeswoman for PAWS, said the bear was then humanely euthanized.

State wildlife agents tranquilized and captured the bear after the homeowner reported a trapped bear in a creek on the property. The animal was then transported to PAWS.

The bear — a male about a year old and 135 pounds — appeared to become stuck in a logjam and had endured a night in a creek on the property. The weakened animal developed hypothermia as a result.

Veterinarians discover bullet inside injured Issaquah bear

November 11, 2010

NEW — 4:10 p.m. Nov. 11, 2010

A black bear trapped in a backyard near the Issaquah Highlands on Thursday morning is in guarded condition at a Lynnwood wildlife rescue center. The bear has a bullet lodged in its spine.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents tranquilized and captured the bear after the homeowner reported a trapped bear in a creek on the property.

The bear — a male about a year old and 135 pounds — appeared to become stuck in a logjam and had endured a night in a creek on the property. The weakened animal developed hypothermia as a result.

Sylvia Moss, a spokeswoman for PAWS in Lynnwood, veterinarianss at the center had spent Thursday afternoon attempting to stabilize the bear’s body temperature.

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Hungry black bears roam through Issaquah area

October 12, 2010

Several Issaquah-area residents, including Colleen Perry, spotted the same bears as they foraged in backyards throughout the area. By Colleen Perry

The scene is as charming as something from a dog-eared issue of Ranger Rick: a mother black bear and a pair of cubs sauntering through a wooded setting.

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Bear struck and killed by vehicle

September 14, 2010

Issaquah police responded to a report of a dead bear along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast early Sept. 10.

Police received a report at 6:35 a.m. Sept. 10 about a possible dead bear in a driveway along the west side of 10000 block of Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast. The bear had been hit and killed by a vehicle.

The department contacted the state Department of Fish and Wildlife about the carcass.

The county Road Services Division and the police department did not receive any calls about the carcass as a traffic hazard.

Bear visits downtown residents / Aug. 27, 2010

August 30, 2010

By John Winkler

After a few nights and early mornings of restless barking by their dog at their downtown home, John and Denise Winkler found out what was keeping their pooch upset. At about 6:30 a.m. Aug. 27, Denise opened the double doors from their bedroom to see, less than 25 feet away, this black bear feasting on leaves, hazelnuts and walnuts for breakfast. “The bear was never agitated or showed any signs of aggressiveness toward us, which was kind of nice,” John said.

Take steps to stay safe around bears

May 18, 2010

Ecologists reminded Issaquah and Washington residents to take steps to avoid encounters with wildlife during Bear Awareness Week.

The observance continues through May 22, just as black and grizzly bears wake from winter hibernation and set out in search of food.

Rich Beausoleil, bear and cougar specialist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said people can co-exist with bears. He encouraged residents to eliminate potential sources of food for bears, keep pet food indoors, clean outdoor grills after use and only put out birdseed in winter.

Both bear species call Washington home, but black bears might be a more common sight for Issaquah residents. The species includes about 25,000 animals throughout the Evergreen State. Scientists estimate fewer than 20 grizzly bears remain in the state.

Bears eat wild plants and seeds — most of the time.

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Bear facts educate highlands residents

June 30, 2009

Whenever her Issaquah Highlands neighbors reported a black bear sighting or bear activity last year, Cathy Macchio marked a highlands map with a paw print. She recorded 15 bear sightings last year.

Macchio works to make sure humans and bears stay safe — no small feat in a sprawling neighborhood with nearly 7,000 residents. Bears, after all, are attracted to everything from garbage to backyard bird feeders.

“We’re creating these big buffet tables in our own backyards,” she said.

As part of the effort to protect bears and her neighbors, Macchio leads Neighborhood Wildlife Stewards. The group discusses wildlife sightings in the highlands and works to educate residents about how to share habitats with four-legged neighbors.

State wildlife officials estimate the black bear population in Washington ranges between 25,000 and 30,000 animals. Agents receive hundreds of black bear complaints each year. The calls range from sightings to property damage to livestock attacks. A few calls each year come as a result of confrontations between humans and bears.

Macchio said the best bet is to call wildlife agents about nuisance bears instead of local law enforcement agencies.

Humans moving into black bear habitat complicate the contact between the species. Bears use a keen sense of smell to track down food. Bears are omnivores, and they consume a variety of plants — berries and grasses, for instance — and insects, such as ants and grubs. But they also have a taste for garbage, pet food and the contents of bird feeders. After bears discover food, chances are they will return. The animals have excellent memories.

Problems arise when bears become “food-conditioned” and associate humans with food rewards. As a result, bears can become unafraid of humans. Emboldened bears can be a danger to humans, and these bears could become aggressive as they search for food.

State Wildlife Officer Bruce Richards said bears are active from late spring until early fall. Most reports of human contact with bears come during the summer months, he said.

Issaquah residents have reported several bear sightings during the past few weeks. At about noon June 3, a black bear was spotted on Issaquah-Fall City Road near Endeavour Elementary School. Over Memorial Day weekend, wildlife agents captured and released a black bear found roaming through an Issaquah neighborhood. Lat Sunday a bear was reported in the Four Lakes neighborhood south of Issaquah.

Richards and his colleagues have specialized training and equipment to deal with bears.

Officers respond to bear sightings when the animal poses a threat to public safety. A sighting alone does not constitute a threat, and wildlife agents would not typically respond to reports of a sighting.

Nuisance bears can be trapped by wildlife agents and relocated. But bears with a taste for garbage are likely to seek out other sources. If relocation fails, a nuisance bear may have to be destroyed.

Richards works with Mishka, the first Karelian bear dog in the nation used for wildlife enforcement. Richards and Mishka track nuisance bears. Mishka also assists in “hard releases” — a process to make bears fear humans again. During a hard release, wildlife officers fire rubber bullets and create loud noises to frighten a nuisance bear. Richards estimates the procedure was successful in 80 percent of the black bear hard releases last spring and summer.

Mindful that nuisance bears often return or seek other sources of garbage, Macchio posted signs with bear safety tips at community mailboxes throughout the highlands. Moreover, she said another bear would often move in to fill the vacuum after wildlife agents relocate a nuisance animal.

Macchio checks out the neighborhood for signs of bear activity. On her rounds, she also passes out fliers to residents on streets where bears dumped garbage bins. Her goal is to remind people how bears can become a threat once they lose their fear of humans.

Macchio recently began working with Heather Swift, principal and owner of Cohabitats, a Seattle company that developers and planners use to identify conservation areas and educate residents to prevent conflicts between humans and wildlife.

“Instead of increasing alarm, we want to increase harmony across species,” Swift said.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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