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North Kitsap bear sightings on the rise

This hungry little guy was caught on camera sneaking a snack out of a birdfeeder in Kingston.  - Brad Camp/For the Herald
This hungry little guy was caught on camera sneaking a snack out of a birdfeeder in Kingston.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

NORTH KITSAP — Gloria Legere, who lives near Finn Hill and Clear Creek roads, woke up to a backyard surprise Monday morning. Remnants of bird feeders were broken and scattered. A bear is responsible for the evisceration of her bird feeders and her impossibly bent bird feeder stands, Legere said.

Bear sightings have increased throughout Washington, according to a news release from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, but the bears are just after a spring snack after a long winter.

“They don’t hurt people,” Legere said. “(The bear) just wants the food.”

Black bears are being lured out of their dens by the warm weather and they’re hungry, the news release states. Bears naturally avoid people but can lose their instinctive fear of humans through interaction and can become increasingly aggressive. Black bears are omnivores, but they prefer a diet of flora over fauna. North Kitsap has seen the reemergence of quite a few furry faces lately and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging people to be aware and use caution around these animals. Kingston has reported about 10 sightings and Poulsbo has had about five, said Jason Langvehen, primary North Kitsap enforcement officer for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Stillwaters Environmental Center in Kingston has received a few calls regarding the influx of bears in the area.

“We’ve got a beautiful place here for bears,” Administrative Director Naomi Maasberg said.

There have been separate sightings of a yearling and an adult female bear and her two cubs. Two cubs are an unusual sight and the people who do call or come by are usually just excited to see them, Maasberg said.

Bears are wild animals and should be treated with caution, Maasberg said. Bears generally do not want to interact with people and people should not encourage interaction with bears, especially by leaving out dog food or other treats for the bears, she said.

Bird feeders are a big attraction for bears, Maasberg said.

“That’s just candy for them, so it’s like putting out candy and not expecting a child to take it,” she said.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife offer the following safety precautions:

- Never intentionally feed bears or other wild animals.

- Keep garbage cans in a garage or another secure area until collection day.

- Remove pet food from areas accessible to wildlife.

- Thoroughly clean barbecue grills after each use.

- Take down bird feeders until later in the summer.

- When camping, keep a clean campsite by throughly cleaning all cooking utensils after use and sealing uneaten food in airtight containers stored in bear-proof canisters away from sleeping areas.

For Legere, the bear may have caused some damage, but he’s a regular and most of the neighborhood knows it, she said.

“We’ve had this problem with the little bruin before,” Legere said.

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