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Wed., Jan. 5, 2011, 1:02 p.m.

Food lures WA bears from hibernation

WILDLIFE -- Eastern Washington's arctic cold snap has had one advantage you might not have considered:  It's kept the bears in their dens.

In the milder climate of Western Washington, an unusually high number of bears are staying active into the winter and causing problems for homeowners, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials.
Unfortunately, it appears as though the bears are being lured from their normal winter respite by human food.
Read on for details from an Associated Press story.

A 300-pound black bear, captured Saturday in a trap near the north shore of Hood Canal, should have been dozing the winter away, officials said.

Instead the bear, believed to be a 4-year-old female, had been roaming the neighborhood on aptly-named Bear Ridge Road, tearing up birdfeeders and poking into sheds, the Associated Press reported.
A photo taken by one resident shows a 6-inch-wide, frosty paw print on a screen door.
Tim Stewart, whose English setter was apparently mauled and killed by the bear in November, asked WDFW to set a trap in his backyard earlier in the week. He awoke Saturday morning to find the bear in the trap.
“I thought it was either a bear or a cop, because (the trap) was baited with doughnuts,” Stewart joked.
Fish and Wildlife officals have been getting an unusual number of nuisance bear calls this winter, said Sgt. Ted Jackson, who arrived on Stewart’s property to remove the bear to a more remote location.
The department has picked up at least 20 bears this year, including one caught in Poulsbo on Thursday.
Several cubs whose mothers have been hit by cars have been picked up, Jackson said.

Bears should be inactive at this time of year, but they are drawn by birdfeeders and people who feed raccoons, Jackson said.

“What they’re doing is basically creating a hazard for their neighbors. You never know what a bear’s going to do. It’s a wild animal,” Jackson said. “As long as they keep feeding them, we’re going to keep trapping them this late in the year.”

Jackson hooked the trap, which is on a trailer, to his pickup, planning to release the bear on the west side of Hood Canal. But the bear’s chances for survival, even in the more remote area, are poor, he said.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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