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ODFW helps Salem police look for roving bear

June 1, 2015

Bear Warning Sign
This is a sign that ODFW sometimes uses to warn citizens of the presence of bears in urban areas. It includes tips on how to respond in an encounter with a bear. Click image to enlarge.

SALEM, Oregon. – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists are looking for a young bear that was seen at several locations in a west Salem neighborhood Sunday and Monday, spurring several calls to local authorities.

ODFW responded to a request for assistance from the Salem Police Department, which investigated calls from five west Salem residents who said they saw a bear in the vicinity of Walker Middle School. One witness turned in a cell phone video of a young bear eating pet food from a bucket on a porch. Based on descriptions and the video, biologists believe the bear is likely a yearling, weighing between 30 and 60 pounds.

Biologists set out a live trap on Monday morning in an attempt to capture and remove the bear. The trap was subsequently moved after ODFW received successive calls indicating the bear had moved north and crossed the Willamette River into east Salem in the vicinity of Pine St.

These kinds of encounters are fairly common in the spring when bears wake up from their long winter naps and come out of their dens to look for food.

Unfortunately, some of these animals get themselves into trouble by looking for meals in all the wrong places – porches, sheds, garages, garbage cans, barbecues, kennels and bird feeders, where they can become a nuisance … or worse.

Not only do these incidents pose a threat to the bear, which may have to be destroyed if the behavior continues, they can also pose a threat to humans who may have a run-in with one of Oregon’s largest wildlife species. Fortunately, the fix is pretty simple – take away any potential sources of food and the animals will usually move on.

There are instances where bears can pose a threat to human safety. ODFW recommends that in the unlikely event a person encounters a bear they react as follows:

  • If you are concerned about human safety, call 911. Police officers are trained to handle these situations.
  • Give the bear a way to escape
  • Steer clear of bear cubs
  • Stay calm and do not run or make sudden movements
  • Back away slowly as you face the bear
  • Talk to the animal in a firm tone of voice to let it know you are a human
  • 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

For more information about living with black bears, visit the ODFW Web site at:




Rick Swart (971) 673-6038

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