ASHLAND, Ore. — This week, two separate bear sightings were reported near the upper part of Lithia Park.
Ashland Parks and Rec officials are plastering signs in the park this week because someone reported a bear sighting in the area on Thursday. Officials say another sighting in the upper part of the park was reported earlier this week.
Local biologists say Southern Oregon is saturated with a higher concentration of black bears compared to the rest of the state. Researchers say Lithia Park is an attractive place for bears to show up because of the water sources, shade, small animals, and the potential for trash in trash cans.
Officials say you should stay calm if you see a bear, but one visitor NewsWatch12 spoke with says that’s easier said than done.
“I think all that mindfulness of knowing what to do just kind of goes out the window I think that fighter flight response just starts to kick in and you’re panic button is right there,” said visitor Gregg Devito.
Chances are the bear is panicking just as much as you, so it’s best to just go your separate ways with the animal. If you make eye contact with the bear or get between a mother and a cub, you are sending signs to the bear you are a prey animal.
Bears are protected game animals so harming them or killing them could get you a citation from law enforcement. However, there are a few legal ways to kill a bear: if it’s hunting season and you have a valid license, or if human safety is threatened.