Goldfinches and robins are the usual customers at Jacki Robertson’s bird feeder in Nine Mile Falls.
On Sunday morning, a black bear jumped over a 5-foot chain-link fence and crashed the birds’ party. He stayed for five hours, drawing a crowd of about 50 people and forcing neighbors to block traffic on the street.
Robertson saw the bear about 6:30 a.m. Sunday in the back yard of her Suncrest home, along Wylie Drive. Her husband, Leo, had tried to quiet the couple’s three dogs, but they kept barking.
“I finally got up, opened the curtains, and yelled at them to be quiet, and there was this bear, eating the birdseed,” she said. “He had sunflower seeds all over his nose. He was so cute.”
Robertson stared at the bear for about a half-minute before she said anything. She and her husband then called their retriever, chow and German shepherd inside the home.
The Robertsons called their next-door neighbors and told them to keep their children and animals inside. They started running down their neighborhood crime watch telephone list and warned people about the bear. They called the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department.
Although the neighborhood sees its share of coyotes and deer, bears are rare.
It drew a crowd.
Neighbors tagged it “Wylie Bear” and took pictures and shot videotape. Cars started driving through the neighborhood to see the animal.
About 8:30 a.m., the bear had to get away from the ruckus. He climbed a large pine tree in the back yard to a height of about 60 feet. He found a comfortable position and dangled his back feet over one branch and his front paws over another. His belly hung through the middle. Wylie Bear went to sleep for two hours.
“Every once in awhile he’d turn around,” Robertson said. “There was bark flying everywhere.”
Finally, the Robertsons asked the neighbors to go home. A representative from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told them over the telephone to keep people away.
Neighbors blocked off Wylie Drive so the bear wouldn’t get spooked by cars.
The bear climbed down the tree. He lay on his back, paws in the air, and slept for another hour in a bed of pine needles.
“He just crashed,” Robertson said. “He just wanted to sleep.”
The bear, which weighed about 250 pounds, was skinny after a winter of hibernation, officers from the Fish and Wildlife Department told Robertson.
“He was a little thin,” Robertson said. “He was a little lost.”
The Robertsons’ home isn’t exactly a farm. It’s bordered by other houses on both sides and in the back. The couple’s 1 acres of land is surrounded by a fence.
No one’s sure what attracted the bear.
Two officers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife arrived about 11:30 a.m., Robertson said. They shot the bear with a tranquilizer gun. The bear then jumped over the fence and loped across the street before falling.
State wildlife authorities boxed up the bear and relocated him north of Tum Tum, Robertson said. Authorities told her the bear tale had a happy ending because everyone kept their distance from the animal.
“He was wonderful,” she said. “He was beautiful. We love animals. We didn’t want to get attached.”