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Laurelwood area residents: Don't feed bears

May 17, 2021

bear in garbage
Click image to enlarge

CLACKAMAS, Ore.—ODFW is urging residents in the Laurelwood area (Washington County) to take steps to prevent more bear problems.

Since April 30, ODFW has received reports from seven different households about two bears (likely a sow and yearling) near Bald Peak. The bears have torn down bird feeders, gotten into trash cans and a smoker, damaged fences and dug up gardens. The bears have been repeatedly seen around homes during the day and appear undeterred by efforts to haze them such as setting off car alarms or using other noise-making techniques. 

"Black bears, with their keen sense of smell, are particularly susceptible to the draw of an uncleaned barbeque grill, an unlocked dumpster, a dangling bird feeder, or a half-eaten bowl of pet food on the back porch," said Kurt Licence, ODFW district wildlife biologist. "That makes them extremely vulnerable to the dangerous habit of associating human communities and food opportunities."

Once a bear gains access to human food or garbage and becomes "habituated" it can lose its natural fear of humans, which can lead to a variety of safety problems for both people and bears. ODFW will not relocate bears it considers habituated, because these bears simply return or repeat the behavior elsewhere.

"The saying is, a fed bear is a dead bear," said Licence. "One of the worst parts of my job is being forced to put down a bear that became a public safety risk because it got easy access to food from people."

"We're asking residents to please take the following steps so both bears and people stay safe," he added.

  • Never feed bears.
  • Store garbage cans in a garage or shed or purchase bear-resistant garbage cans if possible.
  • Put garbage cans out just before pick-up.
  • Keep pet food inside.
  • Remove bird feeders.
  • Keep BBQ grills and smokers clean or in garage.
  • Clean up fruit under fruit trees.
  • Keep all food stored outdoors (patio refrigerators, etc.) locked

As bears are in the area, ODFW also shares advice for what to do if you encounter a bear:

  • STOP: Never approach a bear at any time for any reason. If you see bear cubs, leave the area.
  • GIVE IT SPACE: Give any bear you encounter a way to escape.
  • STAY CALM: Do not run or make sudden movements. Face the bear and slowly back away.
  • AVOID EYE CONTACT: Don't make eye contact with the bear.
  • DON'T RUN: It may encourage the bear to chase you.
  • FIGHT BACK: In the unlikely event you are attacked, fight back, shout, be aggressive, use rocks, sticks and hands.

For more information on steps you can take live safely with black bears, visit www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/black_bears.asp

To report black bear damage or sightings in the Laurelwood area, call ODFW at (971) 673-6000 or 911.

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Contact:

Michelle Dennehy, (503)931-2748, Michelle.N.Dennehy@odfw.oregon.gov

 
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