|Print from the problem bear on the window of a structure, which it pressed up against looking for food.
|A feed trail created by the problem bear after he broke into an out-building for seed.
Fort Hoskins Historic Park remains closed for public safety
KINGS VALLEY, Ore.— Fort Hoskins Historic Park in Benton County remains closed as ODFW continues efforts to trap and euthanize a black bear that has become a public safety risk.
ODFW believes it is the same bear which was deliberately fed during last year at a rural private residence located several miles from the park. It is likely the same bear that was causing problems in May by eating out of residents’ garbage cans in the Kings Valley and Pedee areas of Benton and Polk Counties.
Bears fed by people are usually the ones that become problem bears. These bears become habituated to people, associating humans with food and losing their natural fear of us. While attacks are rare, habituated bears are often the ones involved in attacks on people.
Relocating habituated bears doesn’t work, as bears usually return to the same area or cause problems in their new home, putting other people at risk. The bear cannot be taken to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator because habituated bears can never be safely returned to the wild. Nor will zoos take problem adult bears that have been removed from the wild.
OFDW has been monitoring the bear since December 2007, when it began targeting garbage cans for food. Biologists determined that the bear was being deliberately fed at a rural private residence. The problems quieted down once the bear denned for the winter, but started again as the bear raided garbage cans in the Kings Valley and Pedee areas and in Fort Hoskins Historic Park. Problems escalated when the bear damaged structures looking for seed and food, pressing against the windows of at least one residence. The bear, which shows no fear of humans, also startled a park user as it departed the dumpster from inside the container.
“I really hate having to put down a bear because humans taught it to associate people with food,” noted Nancy Taylor, ODFW District Wildlife Biologist in Corvallis. “Unfortunately, the bear’s behavior has escalated to the point where it presents a public safety risk.”
Fort Hoskins Historic Park was closed Tuesday afternoon for public safety risks presented by both the bear and the traps. At least one individual was seen at the park after the closure. “We will reopen Fort Hoskins Historic Park as soon as the bear is trapped or we determine it has left the area, but until then we need people to avoid the park for safety’s sake,” said George McAdams, acting director, Benton County Natural Areas and Parks Department.
According to McAdams, use of this daytime-only park has been light due to the cool weather. The next picnic shelter reservation is not until the weekend of June 21. Nearby park Beazell Memorial Forest remains open.
ODFW has been distributing information to local residents about the bear, including tips on how to stop unnatural feeding of bears. Residents in the area, and anyone that cares about the safety of bears and their neighbors, should take the following steps to prevent problems like this one from happening again:
- 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. They also have a keen sense of smell and will travel long distances to reach an easy food source.
- Take in all bird feeders at night, including hummingbird feeders, and sweep up any seed on the ground. In areas where bears are a problem, avoid feeding birds during the summer months.
- Keep all garbage inside your house or closed garage, and only place it outside just before garbage 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.