Fish & Feathers: Peninsula bears are frisky!

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>This picture shows two of the five 12-foot cedars that were destroyed in a Sunset Sands backyard last week. It demonstrates the strength and agility of these bears. The remainder of the trees can be seen in the background.

It's the time of year for Peninsula black bears to be out and about foraging for food of opportunity, rubbing trees or tasting sap found under the bark.

Two reported incidents were brought to my attention this past week by landowners. One took place in Sunset Sands where a bear, and it looked like a good-sized one, gave five 12-foot cedar trees on the property a real "trimming." The trees were located about 75 feet east of a private residence and as you can see from the picture, were clawed and broken in half in the night.

Black bear commonly leave a variety of marks on trees. They will often rip strips of bark with their teeth. Bear teeth leave long vertical groves in the sapwood. The trees that I examined were broken at about the seven-foot height and appeared to have claw marks in the bark. These marks usually happen between April and July and in Alaska we have found these marks at the 10-foot height range. At Sunset Sands and in another bear incident in Ocean Park, the bear appeared to reach up, lean on the trees and snap them in half, while clawing the lower half of the tree. A bear will also rub its back on trees or other objects, relieving the torment of parasites and loosening their thick winter coats.

The Washington state black bear population ranges between 25,000 to 30,000 animals. We have more than our share on the Peninsula and in surrounding areas. Typically, a small proportion of the black bear's annual diet is made up of animal protein, including insects, mice, moles, ground squirrels, fawns, elk calves, eggs and carrion. Bear will also take advantage of those who are not careful where they place birdfeeders or pet food. Bear can cause a lot of damage to surrounding areas, so keep your birdfeeders out of reach. Do not feed your animals outside and don't leave your doors wide open - unless you want company.

Sea lion population below Bonneville Dam The sea lion population below the dam (January through May) in 2008 was 4,466 and in 2009 it was 4,489, as reported by the Army Corps of Engineers. The summer run of Chinook at the Booneville Dam on Friday was 1,068, and Saturday 3,543, for a total 7,087 to date - building, but still far from the peak.

Answer to Robert M. Pile about gun articles Dear Sir,

The two recent articles that you refer to as "distasteful" do have a place in the outdoor column. Guns are a part of the lives of people; whether they find a place in your life or not is your choice. They are a part of recreational shooting, hunting, personal and home defense for millions of citizens, and to understand the responsibility of owning and using a gun is of utmost importance.

We all may have to make choices when situations arise and if you are schooled in making those choices your judgment will hopefully be the right one. It is my belief that children should be taught how guns are utilized in our society, gun safety and history. It is the role of the gun owner to take precautions to keep guns out of the hands of children.

You may want to take the time to read the police blotter, dispatch reports, Pacific County Law and Order, jail bookings and the court calendar for a better understanding of what the law and private citizens are up against. Information is knowledge and owning a gun is a right, for the responsible citizen.

Ron Malast can be reached at raiders@reachone.com or 665-3573. All true outdoor stories and photos are welcome.

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