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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Black bears spotted by hikers on South Hill bluff trails

Dog walking is popular on the South Hill bluff trails.  (Rich Landers)
Dog walking is popular on the South Hill bluff trails. (Rich Landers)

Updated, 3:40 p.m. with quotes from eyewitnesses.

WILDLIFE -- Black bears have been reported on Spokane's popular South Hill bluff trails today.

After receiving two calls, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department police officer Mike Sprecher responded and said it looked as though two bears, an adult bear and a younger bear, had been on the slopes between High Drive and Hangman Creek.

"The bears had headed down into the brushy creek and no problems were reported," said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman.

Comstock resident Amie Whittle posted this message to friends: 

About 30 minutes ago my husband and I saw a fairly large black bear heading down the bluffs between 37th and Bernard. We were on the middle trail and he was coming down from above! It was at most 100 yards from us and we hightailed it straight up the hill! Please be very careful and if you have bear spray take it with you!
I reported to fish and game.

Contacted later, Mike Whittle said they were on the lower portion of the trails headed toward Qualchan Golf Course when they spotted the bear about 80 yards away on the slope above them.

"It was nice and round, very healthy looking," he said. "We had our dogs, so we turned around immediately and got out of there as the bear loped down the slope away from us. It wasn't even really looking at us, so that's a good thing."

Whittle said he's been hiking the bluff trails for 12 years and has seen deer, moose, coyotes, turkeys and other critters, but never a bear -- until today.

Luers said the department planned no further action, but offered this advice from the Fish and Wildlife officials.

"The department recommends that people keep their dogs on leash -- it's the law, and a good idea considering that coyotes can be in the area anytime.

Bears step up their feeding in fall and can be easily lured by opportunities to find food, she said.

The best way to avoid having a problem with bears is to keep pet food and garbage indoors and stop feeding birds or keep the feeders in bear-proof positions, she said.

More more information, see the agency's Living With Bears webpage.

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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