ASHLAND, Ore. — State wildlife officials are urging the people of Ashland to be "bear aware" as the area continues to see increasing interactions with the animals apparently coming in search of food.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says that it has received 29 documented complaints about bears inside the Ashland city limits since March — including "aggressive actions, nuisance behaviors, and loss of wariness." The agency says that many of those incidents were the result of freely available access to garbage, bird seed, compost, and other types of "food rewards."
"The City of Ashland is experiencing a high level of bear problems. ODFW is asking residents to be extra vigilant and take steps to not feed bears," the agency said.
On Wednesday morning, a bear that had been spotted multiple times on a resident's porch in a residential area near Lithia Park was put down by wildlife managers, ODFW said.
An examination of the bear showed that she was a young female, between two and three years old, and had not yet reproduced. Meat from the bear was salvaged "and will be donated to someone in need," the agency said.
“People should ‘Be Bear Aware’ and remember black bears are wild animals that can behave unpredictably, and may quickly become a human safety problem if habituated to human food,” said Steve Niemela, ODFW Rogue District Wildlife Biologist. “Bears just do what bears do, it’s all of our job collectively to avoid creating situations that are dangerous for people and bears.”
ODFW, Wildlife Services, and the Ashland Police Department asked all residents of Ashland to do everything they can to avoid habituating the bears by encouraging their forays into the city — namely with food.
“Protecting public safety is our top priority, but this is the worst part of any wildlife biologist’s job,” said Niemela. “I’m imploring residents of Ashland to please limit food sources for bears so they will leave this area and we won’t need to kill any more bears.”
People in these bear-prone areas are asked to help by doing the following:
- Never feed bears.
- Put garbage cans out just before pick-up.
- Recology Ashland offers bear-resistant cans, call 541-482-1471.
- Keep pet food inside.
- Remove bird feeders.
- Keep BBQ grills clean or in garage.
- Clean up fruit under trees.
Here are some tips from ODFW in case you encounter a bear:
- STOP: Never approach a bear at any time for any reason. If you see bear cubs leave the area.
- GIVE IT SPACE: Give any bear you encounter a way to escape.
- STAY CALM: Do not run or make sudden movements. Face the bear and slowly back away.
- AVOID EYE CONTACT: Don’t make eye contact with the bear.
- DON’T RUN: It may encourage the bear to chase you.
- FIGHT BACK: In the unlikely event you are attacked, fight back, shout, be aggressive, use rocks, sticks and hands.