Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) officials killed a young black bear by Hagg Lake near Forest Grove recently because it had become habituated to humans.
Black bears are commonly seen throughout Oregon, even on the coast, but are typically seldom seen. The black bear in Washington County had been seen frequently at a popular boat ramp at Hagg Lake despite efforts to encourage the bear to head back to the woods.
ODFW officials were summoned to the scene early on June 13 after state troopers reported that the bear had become habituated to the park. This was the result of people feeding the animal, which biologists encountered eating trail mix, sunflower seeds, cracked corn and other food left next to the highway near the intersection of Scoggins Valley Road and Herr Road approximately one mile to entrance of Scoggins Valley Park.
Over the past week, officers were called to the same area several times where individuals had left food for the animal. It is illegal to scatter food, garbage or any other attractant so as to knowingly constitute a lure, enticement or attractant for potentially habituated wildlife.
“This is a classic example of why we implore members of the public not to feed bears,” wildlife biologist Kurt Licence said. “While the individuals who put food out for this bear may have had good intentions bears should never, ever be fed.”
Wildlife officials and law enforcement became aware of interactions between the bear and humans after some individuals took “selfies” of themselves and the bear and posted them on social media. In addition to creating a threat to public safety, people can harm wild animals by feeding them ‘junk food’ that potentially will make them sick.
“It’s never a good idea to feed wild animals,” Licence said. “They are perfectly capable of fending for themselves, and it’s always better to leave them alone and enjoy them from a safe distance.”
There are between 25,000 and 30,000 black bears in Oregon, according to the state, and ODFW does not translocate bears that have been habituated to humans because these animals are much more likely to have dangerous interactions with humans in the future.
For more information on how to safely and responsibly interact with Oregon’s black bears, visit ODFW’s “Living with Wildlife” section online at dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/black_bears.