Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) officials have baited a trap — with jelly donut-scented spray — to capture a bear that has been lingering around Harris Beach State Park north of Brookings for the past few weeks.
Brehan Furfey, wildlife biologist with the ODFW, said the black bear hasn’t yet raided any picnic baskets, ala Yogi, but has been spotted in a tree, several times passing in and out of the park, and even on the bike trail — during the day.
“Seeing bears during the day can be a little more concerning,” Furfey said. “They’ve been trying to scare it away, and it’s not responding to that real well.”
They’re not sure how effective the trap will be either, she admitted, saying that sometimes bears seem to recognize traps and leave the area, which alone, solves the problem.
That time of year
Usually bears feed on berries, nuts, roots and grubs in the summer — and blackberries are just starting to ripen — but will eat from easier pickings such as trash, coolers and other food sources in densely-packed campgrounds.
It is unknown if it is the same bear residents have seen near the top of Parkview Road in recent weeks.
“There have been a few different reports of bears in the Brookings area,” Furfey said. “One has been up in the hills in Harbor, this one has been in Harris Beach off and on for the last month, and also the neighborhood just north of Harris Beach. This is the time of year they become a little bit more active.”
The situation is a “little alarming,” she said, primarily because the bear is close to campers, shows up on a fairly frequent basis and seems to have lost its fear of people. Campers in the area have been alerted, Furfey said, and while the bear hasn’t bothered trying to break into coolers or vehicles to obtain food, it has checked out the park’s recycling area.
“They have to eat a gigantic amount of calories every day, so if they have the opportunity to dig in the trash rather than sit in a berry patch, they’ll take the opportunity,” Furfey said. “It’s not so much about (foliage loss in) the Chetco Bar Fire; plants are growing back there. There’s lots of roots; insects are coming back. They are hitting the berry patches pretty hard, but they’re also popping up in people’s trash cans.”
If the bear is trapped, it will have to be euthanized as it has become acclimated to people, Furfey said.
“Relocation efforts don’t often work with bears, she noted.
“You relocate them 100 miles away and they’ll be back within a week,” she said. “They have a strong sense of homing skills. If you don’t remove the problem, it’ll just come right back.”
And if a relocated bear doesn’t return, it often uses the new skills its learned to easily obtain food in another campground or neighborhood.
See a bear?
If a bear is spotted anywhere — in the park, along a trail, in the woods — people should first protect their children and keep their leashed dogs under control, Furfey said.
Then, they should:
•Keep their distance and don’t approach a bear,
•If it’s close, yell and throw things at it to scare it away,
•Give it an escape route so it doesn’t perceive you as a threat,
•Make yourself look bigger by putting your arms in the air, spreading your legs and slowly walking backward,
•Eye contact is not critical as it is in some animal encounters,
•If hiking in the woods, keep up a steady stream of noise — conversation, singing to yourself — most wild animals don’t want to encounter a person any more than most people want to encounter them,
•Don’t hike at night when bears are more active and,
•Don’t run away.
If a bear starts huffing, exhibits a “jaw popping” sound, snarls or tries to nip, it means it needs space.
“If it starts to approach, that becomes more of a dangerous situation,” Furfey said. “It’s likely that wouldn’t happen unless you were a physical threat to the bear — or dangling hot dogs in front of him.”