Mid-coast residents urged to secure food sources
|An aggressive bear broke into this attached garage north of Yachats looking for food. Wildlife officials are attempting to catch the bear.
FLORENCE, Ore.—Human feeding of bears and a suspected poor berry crop are blamed for the worst-ever year for bear damage in the Florence and Yachats area in memory.
Within the past week, six bears have been killed in the Florence and Yachats areas, bringing the year’s total to 12. Four of the bears were public safety risks due to their behavior—one broke through a kitchen window looking for food and another charged growling and snarling into a backyard towards a homeowner. The other two bears killed tried to break into the same goat pen where a goat was killed last week.
All bears killed were repeatedly seen in the daytime and did not show wariness of people, indications that they had come to associate people with food and were now habituated. While attacks are rare, habituated bears are often the ones involved in attacks on people.
“A poor or perhaps just late berry crop this year is sending bears into residential areas looking for food,” explained District Wildlife Biologist Doug Cottam. “In times like these, it’s even more important to not teach bears bad habits that endanger them and your neighbors.
No one wants to see more bears put down or a person attacked. Please don’t feed the bears,” implored Cottam.
Cottam believes the rise in conflict is partly due to a poor or simply late berry crop this year. The bears killed are young males likely competing with dominant, older males for food. “The younger hungry males are wandering back into residential areas for food, and they are finding it at places like birdfeeders,” said Cottam. “Remember the right thing to do is to leave bears wild. They must learn to rely on natural food sources.”
ODFW is extremely concerned about public safety in the mid-coast area and offers the following guidelines on what to do if you encounter a bear:
- Give any bear you see a way to escape. Step off the trail or road and slowly walk away.
- If you see bear cubs, steer clear and leave the area.
- If you encounter a bear, stay calm. Do not run or make sudden movements. Back away slowly as you face the bear.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the bear.
- If you are attacked, fight back. Shout, be aggressive, use rocks, sticks and hands to fend off an attack.
ODFW reminds residents to take the following precautions to avoid inadvertent feeding of bears.
- Remove all food attractants. Don't leave food unattended. Bears are creatures of habit and will return to spots where they have previously found food.
- Take in all birdfeeders, including hummingbird feeders, and sweep up any seed on the ground. (Generally it is not necessary to feed birds during the summer as they can rely on natural food sources.)
- Keep all garbage inside your house or closed garage, and only place it outside just before garbage pick-up. If you do not have garbage service, contact your provider to begin scheduled pick-up.
- Use bear-resistant garbage cans.
- If bears have previously ransacked garbage cans, clean cans with hot water and bleach or ammonia to remove odors.
- Double bag all garbage. Use of ammonia-soaked rags in and around the cans may repel bears.
- Keep all pet food and livestock feed inside the house or garage.
- Use three strands of low-cost electric fencing as an easy way to deter bears from fruit trees, compost piles, beehives and garbage cans.
- Clean up barbecue grills and store them inside.