On Monday, June 16, KCPQ 13 reported that a North Bend, Washington resident awoke this morning when a bear was tapping at his bedroom window. According to the Sgt. Kim Chandler of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, it was a curious young bear who visited the home at 5:00 a.m. today.
“This is strictly a food-driven behavior. He’s not trying to get in that window to eat the homeowner, eat the homeowner’s kid," stated Sgt. Chandler.
“This truly is not a bear problem; this is a people problem, plain and simple,” Chandler said, adding that there have been more than 230 bear complaints this year in King County.
New home developments have encroached upon bear habitat, and Chandler stated that this has led to an increase in bear complaints. The state has not investigated any complaints involving bears acting aggressively toward people.
According to Chandler, the bears are not exhibiting threatening behavior such as chomping jaws or stomping feet, but she conceded: “Granted, it’s a little bit unnerving to have a bear looking in your window.”
According to the Washington Department of Wildlife, excepting females with cubs, black bears are typically solitary animals that tend to avoid humans. Bears are attracted to anything that may contain food and will expend a large amount of energy to get to that food. To decrease the likelihood of bear visitations at your home, keep pet food inside and lock down any garbage receptacles, using tight-fitting lids in a garage, shed, or fenced area. Residents should spray garbage cans and dumpsters frequently with disinfectants to reduce odors.
Human-habituated bears are bears that have lost their natural fear or wariness of humans due to prolonged exposure to people - and these bears may become aggressive in pursuing a meal. If you come into close contact with a bear, they advise avoiding eye contact but identifying yourself as a human by standing up, waving your hands above your head, and talking. If a bear is on your property, do not approach them - especially if cubs are present. If you cannot move away from the bear safely and the animal does not leave the premises, attempt to scare it away by yelling or clapping your hands.
While there are an estimated 25,000 black bears in Washington State, attacks are relatively uncommon, with only six known attacks since 1920. In 2008 in Port Orchard, Wash., a bicyclist was injured when he and his unleashed dogs encountered a bear.
Those who live, work, hike, and camp in areas that are known to have bears should exercise added caution with small children and with pets. Washington State does use Karelian Bear Dogs to deter wildlife encounters, namely with bears and with cougars.