Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bear in the Backyard

Some Issaquah Highlands (east of Seattle,Washington) community neighbors woke to an interesting site the other morning and got it on tape.

Unfortunately, according to Rose & Saurabh Saxena, its not an unusual sight, “Beyond the thrill of seeing the bear, we were also disturbed that our neighbors continue to place their garbage out the night before (garbage pickup), and wanted to take the video to raise awareness. “ Last fall they saw a large mother black bear and three cubs in the same location dragging garbage into the greenbelt. This year’s bear seems smaller and they speculate that it may be one of those grown cubs.

The Saxena’s have joined with their local community NW Wildlife Stewards, volunteer group to encourage the Homeowner’s Association to do more to keep the bears out of the neighborhood, and to keep the bears and people safe. Cathy Macchio started the NW Wildlife Stewards group last year after repeatedly seeing bear-strewn garbage in her neighborhood and having one bear raid her compost pile and leave foot prints on her wood fence. She contacted Julie Hopkins, with the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project and received support and education on how to reduce conflicts with black bears in her neighborhood.

Cathy and the other Wildlife Steward members have convinced the Homeowner’s Association to post metal signs describing Bear Smart steps on the mail kiosks, and have been working with the local garbage company to reduce bear problems as well. Cathy is also involved in creating a website to educate the community on how to keep wildlife wild, report wildlife sightings and promote resident involvement as volunteers. The website should be functional in the next couple of months so check back for a link. The NW Wildlife Stewards would like to see the people and the wildlife of their growing neighborhood co-exist safely. If you are interested in helping the Wildlife Stewards or have any questions about the group you can contact Cathy at wildlifestewards@gmail.com.

Written by Julie Hopkins, GBOP field representative.