Many bears, few berries

SUQUAMISH — Sharon Darco watched a trio of black bear cubs create mischief in her yard this week, sniffing for food and knocking over planter boxes.

The display is endearing but sad.

Darco hasn’t seen an adult bear in the area in weeks. Her guess is the cubs are orphaned and desperate for food.

“I don’t want to see them starve,” the Miller Bay Road resident said. “The sooner they can get out of here the better.”

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has been swamped with bear calls this summer.

Officers have trapped more than 12 bears in Kitsap County this year. Colder than average summer weather has delayed berry harvests in western Washington, forcing bears to seek out food in backyards and parks, said Donny Martorello, black bear program manager for Fish and Wildlife.

“We just try to get the animals through this period and into their dens,” Martorello said. “And cross our fingers they find a food source.”

Fish and Wildlife continues to advise homeowners to bring in bird feeders, trash cans and other food sources that could attract bears to their yards. Officers will only trap a bear if it receives multiple complaints about a bear acting aggressively in a heavily populated area.

Fish and Wildlife has used live traps to relocate several bears in North Kitsap this summer. The agency trapped three bear cubs in the Kingston area earlier this summer after a mother bear was struck and killed by a car July 14 on State Route 104.

Darco has lived north of Suquamish for nearly 10 years and she’s used to shooing away hungry bears.

Usually Darco would be content to let nature run its course but not when it’s baby bears growing skinny in her yard.

“I’m worried about their welfare,” she said, “Someone around here could take a pot shot at them, and that would just be a shame.”

Darco first saw a pair of bear cubs near her house three weeks ago. A third joined them this week. She put in several calls to Fish and Wildlife and officers installed a live trap near her house Tuesday.

“We are just waiting for the cubs to get hungry to go for the donuts,” Darco said in an email.

Bear safety

For more information on preventing bear confrontations, see Fish and Wildlife’s bear information page at Aggressive bear behavior can be reported to to (360) 902-2936.

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