Guess who’s looking for food?

  • By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
  • Friday, April 22, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

We are not the only ones looking forward to warmer weather. It also reminds bears to get out and start looking for food.

Obviously, after months of sleeping, finding food is important to them, so it will not matter if it’s wild berries, compost or garbage.

If they find it, they will co

me back. They will stop fearing humans, making them more dangerous.

“Some people think it’s fun to have a bear in their back yard, but it’s not when the bear ends up dead or people’s safety is jeopardized,” bear ecologist Chris Morgan said.

Morgan, who also is director of the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project, is getting the word out that bears are out and about again. His Bellingham-based group is aimed at teaching people about black bears, grizzlies, cougars and wolves.

Because of a bear’s good memory, it is important not to give the animal access to anything it can use for food, Morgan said.

People can reduce the chance they’ll encounter a bear at their driveway by keeping trash cans in the garage, keeping pet food indoors, picking up all fruit that’s fallen from trees, cleaning barbecue grills after use and removing bird feeders.

Bears are especially attracted to sunflower seeds. They can smell them from 2 miles away and they are a good source of calories and fat.

There are about 2,500 black bears and about 30 grizzlies in Washington, Morgan said. Bears can live in areas with mature forests such as in the Skykomish Valley area.

Bears have been regular visitors to Sultan every year. There’s even one that has been seen repeatedly near the river and a park known for its trails, public works field supervisor Connie Dunn said.

There have not been any reports of people being hurt by bears in the recent past, she said.

The important thing to do if a bear is spotted is to figure out what attracted it and remove the attraction. Otherwise, “they will return to that food source,” Dunn said.

Bears also can expand their territory depending on the food supply.

“You are in bear country 5 miles from Everett. Black bears are very flexible,” Morgan said.

If you encounter a bear, Morgan recommends giving it space, make noise and don’t surprise it.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez @heraldnet.com.

Take care

•If you are going to the outdoors, there are some things you need to think about:

Avoid camping next to natural food sources (berries), trails or streams.

Do not bring food or strong-smelling nonfood items into your tent.

Place food in bear-resistant storage containers or store it in your vehicle.

Remember to hang pots, utensils, cosmetics, toiletries and any other strong-smelling items with your food and garbage.

Never cook or eat in your tent.

Do not bury your garbage. Animals can easily dig it up.

Remember: Pack it in, pack it out.

Travel in groups and during daylight hours.

Talk or sing songs as you walk, especially in dense brush where visibility is limited, near running water, or when the wind is in your face. Bears may feel threatened if surprised.

Keep dogs on a leash and under control.

Never approach or feed a bear or any other wildlife.

Source: Grizzly Bear Outreach Project

For more go to:

•State Department of Wildlife and Fish at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/bears.html.

Grizzly Bear Outreach Project, www.bearinfo.org

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