Wildlife officers: Be 'bear aware' as animals search for food

ISSAQUAH --The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning state residents to keep on the lookout for hungry bears at this time of year, as the animals awake from hibernation and start looking for food.

It is against the law to feed bears. And if anyone feeds them intentionally, or out of negligence, they could receive a fine.

Several people living on a nice, quiet street in Issaquah named Big Bear Place said they have seen the local wildlife their road is named after.

Mike Pernack had a bear sighting just last year. “They’re no problem at all, except for getting in the garbage, he said. “That’s why we all have bear-proof garbage cans.”

Pernack invested in a bear-proof garbage can after a recent close encounter.

“It gets the adrenaline going,” he said. “It’s something to see them. You don’t want to get too close. They looked at me. I looked at them and they stuck around a little bit and went down the hill.”

State Fish and Wildlife Capt. Mike Hobbs said that after an unseasonably warm winter and spring, bears will now be rummaging for food.

"They are large, wild carnivores," Hobbs said. "They’re looking for a meal and they want the easiest meal they can get."

Officers say to secure garbage cans, remove bird feeders at night, clean back patio grills and just be bear aware.

"If you live near an area and you know there’s bear sightings and you’re not taking enough steps to mitigate that, yeah, you could be fined," Hobbs said.