The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has successfully relocated three black bears from a residential area in Leavenworth. 

“Back in September, we started receiving reports of a female black bear with two cubs in the Blackbird Island area of Leavenworth,” says WDFD spokesperson Nicole Jordan. “The black bears came into the neighborhood because they were attracted to fallen apples from the residential trees and some food in garbage cans that were not bear resistant.” 

After attempting to trap the bears for several days without success, WDFD agents resorted to using Karelian Bear Dogs to round up the animals and return them to their natural mountain habitat many miles from the city limits and any residential areas. 

Jordan says this was a success story for the bears, since it is sometimes deemed necessary to euthanize bears in similar instances when they have become acclimated to humans. 

“Relocating bears is not always an option because it does not address the root cause of human and bear interactions and conflicts. Many times, if there’s still an available food source in a populated area where a bear has strayed, they will show up again.” 

The WDFW says the best way to keep bears from wandering into residential areas is to make sure food and other attractants are secured or cleaned up and not available for them to sense. This includes securing trash cans, removing bird feeders, and picking up tree fruit quickly after it falls to the ground. 

Earlier this year, the City of Leavenworth distributed fifty bear-resistant trash receptacles to its most bear-prone areas but currently has no ordinance that mandates the use of such canisters by its residents. 

The City says it has been discussing the possibility of making bear-resistant trash cans mandatory but would need Chelan County to adopt a similar ordinance for it to be effective since much of Leavenworth’s population lies outside city limits. 

Currently, Waste Management customers in the Leavenworth area can rent bear-proof receptacles for their trash for a monthly service charge. 

The relocation has also prompted the WDFW to remind citizens that feeding or negligently attracting black bears or other large wild carnivores is illegal.

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