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Kara Raftery (Zupke) | Communications and Special Projects Manager
City of Leavenworth
509.548.5275 ext. 136 | [email protected]


LEAVENWORTH, WA, March 19, 2024 – This year, in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Waste Management, the City of Leavenworth is promoting BearWise® strategies in the Leavenworth area. Becoming a BearWise®community will help in stopping black bears from becoming habituated, preventing negative human-black bear interactions, and ultimately keeping black bears in their natural habitat.

Leavenworth is located in prime black bear habitat. People are often unaware that black bears live in this area and can inadvertently contribute to habituating bears by not effectively securing garbage and/or food waste. Black bears become habituated to people when exposed to food attractants such as garbage.

In August 2023, forty bear-resistant cans were rolled out in areas with frequent bear conflicts as part of a pilot program between the City, Defenders of Wildlife, and WDFW.

“We are thrilled to support Leavenworth in becoming Washington’s first bear smart community,” said Zoë Hanley, Defenders of Wildlife senior representative.

The fewer habituated black bears that frequent Leavenworth in search of food attractants readily provided by people, the fewer black bears WDFW will have to lethally remove.

“We know that no single action will solve the puzzle of living with bears in a tourist destination,” said City Administrator, Matthew Selby. “The solution will require on-going partnerships between the City, Chelan County, our partners in this project, community members and visitors.” 

Courtesy of BearWise®, here are five at-home basics to help avoid creating human-bear conflicts:

  • Do Not Feed or Approach Bears. Intentionally feeding bears or allowing them to find anything that smells or tastes like food teaches bears to approach homes or people to look for more. Bears will defend themselves if you get too close; don’t risk your safety or theirs.
  • Secure Food, Garbage, and Recycling. Food and its odors attract bears; don’t reward them with readily available food or garbage. City residents can obtain bear-resistant garbage cans from Waste Management.
  • Remove Bird Feeders. Birdseed has lots of calories, removing feeders when bears are active is the best way to avoid attracting bears.
  • Do Not Leave Pet Food Outside. Feed pets indoors. If you must feed pets outside, feed in single portions and remove food/bowls afterwards.
  • Clean and Store Grills. Clean grills or smokers after each use and store in a secure area.

If you have questions about living with black bears or becoming more BearWise®, please contact Wildlife Conflict Specialist, Joseph Bridges, at (509) 237-9465 or [email protected] or visit Waste Management offers bear-resistant containers. For pricing and more information, please call Waste Management at (877) 466-4667. 

If you have questions, or for more information, please contact Kara Raftery (Zupke) at [email protected].


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