ROSEBURG, Ore. – Black bears are being seen more frequently in western Oregon this summer. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has some tips to avoid problems with bears.
“Here on the coast, the salmonberry crop never came on in many places and the blackberries are not ripe yet,” said Stuart Love, wildlife biologist in the Charleston field office. “Berries aren’t the only thing bears can eat right now, but that’s what they want. They’re hungry and looking for an easy meal which is usually garbage or pet food left outside of homes.”
“Remember the right thing to do is to leave bears wild. They must rely on natural food sources,” continued Love. “Bears that come to expect food from humans become safety risks.”
In Coos Bay and the mid-coast district, several bears have been killed for human safety and damage reasons. Damage complaints have increased in the southern Willamette Valley and North Coast. The Klamath district also reports bear problems.
In the Rogue Watershed, Wildlife Biologist Rosemary Stussy fields calls from homeowners with bear problems ranging from ransacked garbage to bears breaking and entering homes. “Bears have killed small farm animals, and now for the second year in a row, bears have torn up one resident’s archery range.”
She asks landowners to do their part and practice good bear etiquette.
“People must make sure they don’t attract bears to their property,” Stussy said. “Neighbors need to work together to make sure everyone is doing what they can to keep bears out.” She offered the following tips for homeowners:
- Keep garbage inside. Pour ammonia or bleach over the trash before leaving it outside for pick-up.
- Store pet food dishes and feed inside.
- Hang bird feeders away from the side of your home or tree trunk so bears can’t reach them. Store birdseed inside and keep the feeder and area underneath clean.
- Keep barbecue grills clean.
- Pick up fruit that has fallen from trees.
Bear hunting season opened Aug. 1 statewide. Landowners with bear damage that desire hunters on their property should contact their local ODFW field office.
Oregon is home to about 25,000 to 30,000 bears. Sightings are not unusual, but attacks on humans are rare. Following are ODFW tips if a person encounters a bear:
- Give the bear a way to escape.
- Stay calm, do not run or make sudden movements.
- Face the bear and back away slowly.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the bear.
- Talk to the bear in a firm voice to let it know you are a human.
- Fight back if attacked. Shout, use rocks, sticks and hands to fend off an attack.
For more information about living with black bears, check the ODFW website at www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/black_bears.asp