Off the Press

December 14, 2010

Good idea: live and let (local wildlife) live

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

Well, it’s been a month since some idiot shot a bear cub in the Issaquah Highlands and left him for dead. Charges haven’t yet been filed, but I am waiting for when they are.

And surely they will be. Because I would hate to think it’s legal to shoot a young bear cub and leave it moaning in pain, trapped in frigid water overnight because the bullet lodged itself in the bear’s spine, leaving it paralyzed. (The bear had to be put to sleep the next day because of his condition.)

And as if that weren’t bad enough, this moron shot a bear and left it wounded in a residential neighborhood. What if Mr. Bear wasn’t paralyzed, but just wounded and angry and then went on a rampage, hurting or killing someone? Then would charges be filed more quickly?

What if the shooter had missed the bear and hit someone’s child or grandparent or family pet?

I had a number of e-mails and phone calls from residents who were angry about the shooting. Several people said they had been enjoying bear sightings all summer — with many of them being a mother and two cubs.

“I hope this wasn’t one of my bears,” one woman told me. “I watched this one cub off and on for weeks. Sure, it was a pain to keep my garbage in the garage until garbage day, but I loved watching that bear climbing up tree trunks and hiking through the neighborhood.

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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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