The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife euthanized an adult black bear in Spokane’s Northwood neighborhood Wednesday after failed attempts to trap it.
The bear became a major safety concern after breaking into several chicken coops, said Staci Lehman, a spokesperson for the fish and wildlife department.
The bear wandered into the neighborhood over a week ago along the Spokane River, and was later spotted near Pasadena Park Elementary School and then the Minnehaha area.
The department had a hard time keeping up with the bear because reports came in secondhand hours later by which point the bear had moved on to a different area.
Lehman said residents did a good job keeping their chicken coops reinforced, and the bear was not always successful breaking in.
The department set up two traps using chickens as bait, but the bear did not try to enter the traps.
There was not enough room for the bear to be safely sedated because of the density of the neighborhood and its proximity to people, Lehman said.
It is difficult to relocate bears because once they get used to people, they often return to civilization. As more houses are built in bear territory, the department is running out of places where they can be relocated.
“(Relocation) is an option we do sometimes, but a lot of times it just leads to putting the problem off on somebody else,” Lehman said.
Bears become more aggressive as they get used to people. The department did not want a repeat of an incident when a black bear attacked a woman outside her home in Leavenworth last month and decided to put the bear down.
“Nobody at the department likes to kill anything, but it became a public safety issue,” Lehman said.
Rivers are known as corridors for wildlife to enter populated areas. With a major river running through the center of Spokane, it is not uncommon for big animals to wander in. Once they arrive, they can get used to easy food and stick around.
If people see bears or mountain lions they should call 911 or the fish and wildlife department right away, Lehman said, so authorities can make a timely response.
For safety, people should give wild animals plenty of space so they have room to get away.
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