ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Don’t feed the animal. It’s a message not everyone is getting in the Issaquah area.
One group of bears is eating too well, which is upsetting neighbors and keeping fish and wildlife officials busy trying to cut the animals off from their food source.
On Wednesday, officers trapped their fourth bear in a neighborhood where this wildlife is really becoming a nuisance.
“They cause conflict,” said Jason Capelli, an officer with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They cause conflict because there`s food available.”
Officers say one woman in particular has been putting out large canisters of bird feed, and six bears are making a habit of visiting the area.
“She had no idea to the extent of bear feeding going on at her property,” said Capelli.
The woman is cooperating with Fish and Wildlife now as officers trap, and do what’s called a “hard release” using barking dogs and rubber bullets to try and scare the bears off. But there’s no guarantee they won’t be back.
“It`s like a drug addict, and they`ll be clean for a year or so,” said Capelli. “But if they hang out in a crack house, they`re going to take crack again at some point.”
And there are other bears looking for a fix. The state has received more than 400 bear-related calls from all over King County this summer. The cause is almost always trash cans and bird feeders.
If the animals hang out long enough, Fish and Wildlife set the traps. But if the bears keep coming back, it can ultimately lead to a grim ending.
Said Capelli: “There will come a point when a bear has become so habituated with people that it becomes a public safety risk, and we`ll have to euthanize it.”
They have not had to euthanize any of the bears yet, though other bears have been put down this summer.
Fish and wildlife officials say if you live anywhere east of I-405, you should have locks on your garbage cans and do not put any bird feeders out in your yard.