LEAVENWORTH — A female black bear that recently confronted a jogger in Leavenworth was euthanized Wednesday. Her two offspring were trapped and released.
The mother bear had a pattern of acting aggressive toward humans and had grown accustomed to eating man-made foods found in the area, which led officials to believe she’d continue to do so, even if relocated, said Capt. Mike Jewell with state Fish and Wildlife Police.
“Our No. 1 priority is public safety and we just cannot take the risk of having this bear come back or seek out human food and human contact elsewhere and have another incident that may not turn out as well next time,” Jewell said.
Authorities have been searching for the bears since June 6 when the mother bear bluff-charged at a jogger in Enchantment Park.
One young bear was caught in a live trap about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the park and the second young bear was trapped in the same area around 5 a.m. Wednesday, Jewell said.
The mother bear was tranquilized in a nearby tree and then killed around 8:15 a.m.
“It’s a really unfortunate circumstance but we believe it was the only option we had in the interest of keeping the community safe,” Jewell said.
Fish and Wildlife had “no doubt in their minds” that these bears are the same spotted in Enchantment Park last week. The mother bear is the only sow with younger bears reported in the area recently and one yearling with cinnamon-colored fur matched the description from a witness.
“We’re pretty confident that there’s no question it’s the same one,” Jewell said.
The two offspring, previously reported by witnesses as cubs, are yearlings estimated at 16 to 18 months old, Jewell said. They were released into the wild at an undisclosed location.
“They’re right about that stage (when) they should be leaving mom,” Jewell said. He added, “...based on their age and their health, we felt comfortable that they were excellent candidates for relocation so they were relocated.”
Fish and Wildlife used peanut butter and birdseed to lure the bears. Jewell speculated it took almost a week to catch the bears because of other smells in the area, like garbage and bird feeders.
“We believe it took as long as it did to trap them because there’s still a lot of available food for them around the Leavenworth area,” Jewell said.
While the greater Leavenworth area is bear habitat, it’s man-made aromas that are most responsible for drawing bears into town, he said.
Jewell is asking residents and visitors to be more mindful of the foods and items they leave outdoors, like garbage, bird feeders and barbecues.
“Otherwise we’re just going to keep having these problems and we do not want them to persist,” he said.
Residents who do encounter bears are advised to make themselves appear big, make noise and back away. Don’t run, though, because that could trigger the bear’s instinct to give chase, Jewell said.
Not every bear sighting needs to be reported to authorities, Jewell said, but anyone who has an interaction, or sees one rummaging through garbage, is asked to contact Fish and Wildlife.
Residents can contact Fish and Wildlife’s Wenatchee office at 665-3508, or its law enforcement dispatch center at (360) 902-2936.