LEBAM — Bear sightings have increased over the last three weeks in parts of Pacific County. A fisherman reportedly had a closer-than-desired encounter with one of the majestic creatures.
North county law enforcement units were dispatched to a report that a man that was trapped at Rock Crusher Hill by a black bear around 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 21.
The initial dispatch created confusion among north county units who thought the issue might be within Grays Harbor County. Making matters worse was that most of the north county units were tied up at a serious injury rollover accident in Raymond.
Units from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and an available unit from the Raymond Police Department were quickly able to narrow the call down to the rock slide area of State Route 6 next to the Forks Creek Hatchery.
According to WDFW Capt. Dan Chadwick, the fisherman was angling on Forks Creek when he heard what he thought was a bear trekking through the leaves and a “bear snort.”
The officers reportedly combed the area looking for a bear sign for over an hour but were unable to pick up any tracks or fresh sign.
Increase in sightings
Bear sightings have also been reported in the Old Willapa area and upper hills of South Bend. Several bears have been caught on camera roaming through backyards looking for a quick meal. In south county, bear sightings are common on the Long Beach Peninsula throughout much of the year. The county as a whole has among the highest concentrations of black bears in the nation.
“At this time of year, the bears are working to fatten themselves up for winter,” Chadwick said. “It’s uncommon to see them down at the creeks and rivers this time of year but around homes, it is pretty normal. They are looking for a quick bite to eat.”
Black bear encounters are fairly common in the rural communities of Washington state and the local backwoods. Black bears are typically not a threat as they are normally frightened by humans and flee when spotted.
Only a few attacks have occurred in state history and primarily involved a sow protecting her cubs. Backwoods travelers are always encouraged to make their presence known by yelling “hey bear” or carrying a cowbell. Bear spray has also been a proven deterrent when confronted.
Residents are encouraged to make sure all garbage is put into secure containers or kept indoors until collection day to discourage attracting hungry bears.