Residents of Blaine and Birch Bay can sleep easy tonight knowing a black bear that trampled across area lawns and roads for three weeks has been safely relocated to the hills of eastern Whatcom County.
Far from ferocious, the meandering bear was spotted dozens of times from Semiahmoo to Ferndale. In all those instances, no one reported that he showed aggression towards humans – behavior that local wildlife experts feared would lead to a bad end for the bear.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer Ryan Valentine said the bear was lucky it didn’t get into trouble.
“These situations don’t always end well,” he said. “There was a bear that got into the habit of scavenging human food out of dumpsters in Maple Falls. We relocated it, but it came back and started becoming aggressive, and eventually we had to destroy it. It sucks, but sometimes it has to be done.”
Bears fed by humans usually wind up dead because they keep seeking human food until they come into conflict.
Valentine said he sees no reason that the Birch Bay bear won’t have a happier ending.
“He didn’t seem to be habituated to human food, and he should settle into his new habitat,” Valentine said. “With the warmer weather we’ve had the last couple of weeks, he should be able to find natural food to sustain himself.”
The bear was caught on Birch Point Road near a gated property formerly owned by the Trillium Corporation. Valentine’s partner Dave Jones set the trap with fresh bacon and other attractant foods. The trap has a door that automatically closes when a bear enters, trapping it in a cylindrical container that can be towed behind a vehicle. Sometime during the night of June 8–9, the bear wandered into the trap and was caught.
“It was a matter of deploying the trap near the sightings and hoping he wandered by,” Valentine said.
In his 10 years as a game warden in this area, Valentine said he’d never seen problems with a bear west of I-5.
“The area west of I-5 is much more populated, and there just isn’t enough undeveloped land for a bear to range around without being seen,” he said.
From May 22 to June 8, dozens of calls came in to authorities reporting bear sightings from Birch Point, Semiahmoo, Birch Bay Village, the BP Refinery and as far south as Olsen Road near Ferndale.
The most damage the bear caused in all that time was to bird feeders in Birch Bay Village, orchard trees on Shintaffer Road and beehives kept on a property on Harborview Road.
“This is definitely our desired outcome,” Valentine said.