LEAVENWORTH — Authorities are searching the Leavenworth area for a bear after it lunged at a jogger Wednesday night.
Around 9 p.m., a jogger rounded a blind corner on Blackbird Island in Enchantment Park and encountered a black bear with a cub, said Capt. Mike Jewell with state Fish and Wildlife Police.
The jogger, an adult male, told officials the bear feinted a charge.
“Bears can sometimes bluff charge people when they’re just trying to scare them away,” Jewell said.
The jogger jumped into the Wenatchee River. The bear stayed on shore and growled at the man.
“The bear remained on shore for a period of time … making some noise like bears do,” Jewell said. “They kind of huff and they snap their jaws, letting him know she wasn’t very happy with him and she made her way back along the riverbank.”
The jogger, who wasn’t identified, called 911 and then Chelan County sheriff’s deputies responded to the area and helped him from the river.
Officials posted signs advising people stay out of the park. Fish and Wildlife officers unsuccessfully searched the park for the bear Wednesday night. The search continues Thursday.
Jewell hasn’t determined what the agency officials will do if they find the bear, though killing the bear is a “very real possibility” because officials believe the bear has developed a habit of eating man-made foods.
“It’s the old adage of ‘A fed bear is a dead bear,’” Jewell said. “Because it’s really, really difficult to change that behavior once they become accustomed to feeding on attractants that are left out by humans.”
One factor is the age and health of the cub and whether it’s able to fend for itself.
“Our plan right now is to try to locate the bear and the cub and assess the situation,” Jewell said. “We haven’t made a specific determination on what we’re going to do, but obviously our first priority is community safety.”
Jewell believes the bear has been in the area for a while feeding off garbage and food sources left in the open by humans — not uncommon in Leavenworth.
“Even though there’s a lot of good bear habitat around Leavenworth, that’s what’s bringing them into town,” Jewell said. “And then they’re not leaving because they’re finding a pretty readily available food source.”
Jewell is asking residents to secure their garbage cans and be mindful of food or smells that may attract bears.
“We’re really glad we didn’t have a worse situation, but if we can’t get some help removing the attractants these bears are going to keep coming into town and we don’t want something worse than what did occur to happen,” Jewell said.
The is the second encounter with a dangerous wild animal in Enchantment Park this week. On Saturday, a young boy was attacked by a cougar before family dogs chased the cougar away.
The boy was not seriously hurt. Officials killed the cougar.