OLYMPIA -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds campers
and hikers that they can take a few simple precautions this holiday weekend to
peacefully co-exist with wildlife.
Black bear, cougar and human populations all are growing rapidly in Washington
state. Along with the population growth, more people are taking to the woods in their
free time. Those trends can mean potential trouble, especially for unwary summertime
hikers and campers.
"Bears are out actively feeding on salmonberries this time of year and are tearing
apart logs looking for insects," said WDFW carnivore expert Steve Pozzanghera. "Also,
as their cubs are growing bigger and stronger, females are able to roam further afield
with their young."
People sharing the outdoors with wildlife should never try to approach wild
animals, and should be particularly cautious if they happen to encounter an animal with
offspring. Young animals which appear to be "orphaned" should be left alone.
Feeding wildlife also is dangerous for both people and animals. Careful handling
of food and garbage will discourage animals from getting too close or becoming too
comfortable around people. Car campers should double-wrap their food and store it
inside their cars, never inside tents. Backcountry campers should use wildlife-resistant
food lockers when possible, or should double-wrap and hang food from tree limbs.
In most cases, animals will go out of their way to avoid humans. People can do
their part by making noise to alert an animal to their presence and giving the animal
room to leave the area.
If an encounter threatens to turn into something more serious, here is the advice
of WDFW experts:
- Don't run running mimics the behavior of prey animals and can prompt
an attack. If small children are present, pick them up.
- Make yourself look larger by raising your arms or standing on a rock or
- Keep eye contact with cougars to establish dominance. Avoid eye contact
with bears because they view a stare as confrontation.
- If the animal appears ready to attack fight back with rocks or stout sticks.
For more details on co-existing with bears and cougars pick up copies of "Living
With Wildlife in Washington" brochures from WDFW offices statewide. The information
also is available at wdfw.wa.gov on the department's website.
- Try to remain on your feet.