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Today is WORLD BEAR DAY!

Did you know our state has a population of about 20,000 black bears? In the spring, black bears emerge from hibernation and immediately seek out high-calorie food sources to make up for not eating over the winter. Black bears are attracted to high-calorie human-provided food sources including garbage, bird feeders, and feed for pets, chickens, and small livestock.

In honor of World Bear Day, and with spring underway, we’d like to bust a common myth surrounding local wildlife encounters in the Leavenworth area.

MYTH >> The City of Leavenworth manages local wildlife encounters.

FACT >> In the Leavenworth area, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Chelan County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) work together to respond to wildlife issues.

Under state law, WDFW is charged with “preserving, protecting, and perpetuating” the state’s fish and wildlife species. WDFW manages nearly one million acres in 33 wildlife areas and numerous species, including black bears. In the four years spanning 2019 through 2023, WDFW received over 430 black bear calls, including 166 where officers responded to the Leavenworth area due to property damage and/or human-wildlife conflict. In that approximate timeframe, ten black bears were removed after becoming habituated to human-provided food sources.

The City maintains a service contract with CCSO who will respond to local wildlife incidents, investigate encounters, and coordinate with relevant agencies.

While the City doesn’t manage local wildlife, we are taking steps to prevent negative interactions between humans and wildlife, including:

> Dispersing over 30 bear-resistant garbage cans to areas with frequent bear conflicts within city limits.

> Acquiring 55 wildlife resistant, self-compacting street cans to manage trash overflow downtown.

> Ongoing clearing of dense brush and vegetation along the riverfront and in parks to reduce wildlife’s ability to travel undetected.

If there is a black bear sighting, or other concerning wildlife, please call RiverCom at (509) 663-9911. Questions about living with black bears or becoming more BearWise®? Visit wdfw.wa.gov/blackbears or bearwise.org.

Dated March 23, 2024

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