City could choose CleanScapes for garbage contract, dump Waste Management

October 18, 2011

Officials seek hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods

CleanScapes nudged out larger competitors and emerged as the No. 1 contender to haul Issaquah garbage due, in part, to offering curbside pickup for difficult-to-recycle items, such as batteries and light bulbs.

The city is seeking a garbage hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods. Waste Management is the predominant hauler in the city, but the current contract between Issaquah and the Houston-based company expires in June.

Seattle-based CleanScapes came out as the top candidate after city officials evaluated offers from both companies and another collector, Allied Waste — a local name for national company Republic Services.

City officials said a $3.8-million-per-year CleanScapes contract could mean lower rates for Issaquah customers, plus increased customer service and recycling options. The contract requires City Council approval.

If the CleanScapes contract is approved, a residential customer putting a 32-gallon cart out for weekly curbside pickup could see rates decrease from $13.43 to $12.74 — a 5.1 percent drop.

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Encounters between black bears and humans increase

August 2, 2011

Jack Altree snapped a photo of a black bear in his backyard in the 3400 block of 239th Avenue Southeast at about 1:15 p.m. July 18, just before the bear destroyed a birdfeeder in search of a snack. By Jack Altree

Cool weather is factor in frequent sightings

The dreary summer is not just disrupting afternoons alongside Lake Sammamish or hikes atop Cougar Mountain.

The unseasonably cool conditions also impacted food sources for the black bears common in the forests around Issaquah and across the Evergreen State.

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Bears awaken from hibernation

May 17, 2011

Wildlife experts advise caution as local sightings increase

Bears take refuge in a Sammamish Plateau tree during a May sighting. By Bent Wiencke

State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents responded to a bear in a home last week, after a surprised Issaquah woman discovered the animal pawing around inside a locked garage.

The incident underscored the need for education about black bears as the close encounters between humans and bears start for the year.

State wildlife officials and organizations remind residents in Issaquah and other communities near bear habitat to take precautions as soon as possible to limit the potential for dangerous encounters.

Bear Awareness Week is observed in Washington through May 21.

The incident relating to the bear in the garage is the latest sighting in recent weeks as bears started to emerge from hibernation early last month.

Issaquah School District administrators spotted bears near several campuses in April and May, including Cascade Ridge, Clark and Newcastle elementary schools. Police received a call about a bear at the downtown Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in late April.

Residents have reported frequent sightings in neighborhoods throughout the city. In the latest example, Issaquah police officers received a call at 11:43 a.m. May 10 about a bear inside a garage in a tree-lined neighborhood near the Sammamish Family YMCA, not far from Providence Point.

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Prosecutors consider charges in bear shooting

May 17, 2011

The investigation into a November bear shooting is complete and the King County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case and should decide whether to file charges soon, spokesman Dan Donohoe said.

State wildlife agents tranquilized and captured the bear Nov. 11 after a homeowner reported a trapped black bear in a creek near Highlands Drive Northeast and Southeast Black Nugget Road. PAWS veterinarians later euthanized the bear cub, because a bullet left the animal paralyzed.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators identified the person believed to be responsible for shooting the black bear by late November, but did not release additional details. Investigators said community members in the neighborhood offered tips during the search for a suspect.

The state classifies unlawful hunting of big game as a felony. Upon conviction, the state revokes all hunting licenses or tags, and suspends the violator’s hunting privileges for 10 years. The penalty also includes a $2,000 fine.

The state classifies the black bear as a game animal, but killing a bear in self-defense, or to defend someone else, should be reasonable and justified. The bear must pose a serious threat.

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Surprised Issaquah resident discovers bear in garage

May 12, 2011

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.

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Bears sighted near Issaquah’s skate park

April 29, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. April 29, 2011

A mother bear and two cubs were seen on Rainer Trail by Issaquah’s skate park on Friday, according to an email Clark Elementary School sent to parents shortly after noon.

Clark staff reminded parents to discuss wildlife basics with their children, including:

  • Students should always walk to and from school in groups, preferably with at least one adult.
  • They should not interact with any unknown animal.
  • They should never feed an unknown animal.
  • They should report any unknown animal sighting to the school or to their parents.

Animal control experts have listed several additional precautions residents can take during this spring season when bear and coyote sightings are frequently reported:

  • Keep garbage and compost piles securely covered.
  • Keep pet food and water inside, and keep pets indoors or confined in a kennel or covered exercise yard.
  • Do not feed wildlife on the ground; keep wild birdseed in elevated feeders designed for birds, and clean up spilled seed from the ground.
  • Do not feed feral cats; coyotes prey on the cats and eat cat food left out for them.
  • Minimize ground cover vegetation near children’s play areas to avoid attracting rodents and small mammals that, in turn, attract coyotes.
  • Use noise-making devices when coyotes are seen. Check with local authorities regarding noise and weapons ordinances.
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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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