Black bears emerge from slumber, popping up in Washington communities

As black bears emerge from winter dens, sightings are becoming more common around Washington.

This week a black bear was captured on camera running through the Issaquah Highlands near Highlands Drive Northeast and Discovery Drive. 

Earlier this week, a similar situation played out near Silverdale Elementary in Kitsap County.

"We’re living in their habitat," said Sheri Robinson, who lives near Snoqualmie Ridge.

Robinson told FOX 13 that she’s never witnessed a black bear in her yard, but woke up to her garbage can emptied out in years past. She’s since upgraded to a bear-proof container.

"They climb over the fence and go right on the desk," said Robinson. "You’ve got to be careful if you have small animals."

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) published a new PSA this month to remind residents about the best practices when you live in an area where bears frequent.

The video is part of a long-running public campaign to educate newer residents, and those who need a reminder, the extra responsibilities that come with living in an area with wild animals.

Roughly, 20-thousand black bears call Washington home. Sightings are most common in the eastern portion of King and Snohomish counties.

WDFW suggests the following tips to prevent conflicts between bears and humans:

  • Never intentionally feed bears
  • Keep garbage cans secure until collection day
  • Remove pet food from outdoor areas with access to wildlife
  • Clean barbecue grills after each use
  • Remove bird feeders until winter
  • Clean up fruit that falls in your yard

State law bans feeding bears. In fact, the unintentional feeding of a bear – or other wild carnivores – can draw fines ranging between $87 and $1,025.

The latest incident in Issaquah, while not uncommon, was more unusual given the bear was on the road itself.

According to WDFW, a conflict specialist went to the area and was unable to find any signs of the bear. The agency plans to work with the community to ensure they avoid attractants that could draw bears to homes or nearby businesses.

If you spot a bear that represents a public safety concern, you are able to call WDFW at 360-902-2936. You can also file a report online.