MAZAMA, Wash. -- Bears are waking up and they are hungry. Officials said after four months of a deep slumber bears are crawling out of hibernation, and they're looking for something to eat.
In fact Washington State Fish and Wildlife officials from Okanogan County came across a bear scrounging for food in a neighborhood on Tuesday. The 300 pound male black bear caused a stir in an Early Winters neighborhood in Mazama.
Neighbors reported the bear was looking for food. One resident told officials the bear had gotten into their garage, broke into a freezer chest and devoured dozens of elk burgers. He also got into a United States Forest Service’s dumpster and some chicken feed containers.
Officials said the bear was eventually trapped, tagged and relocated to the upper reaches of the Chewuch River.
Michael Atamian, a Washington State Fish and Wildlife district biologist said bears simply follow food after hibernation and do not usually venture too far from home unless they cannot find anything to eat. He said younger bears are more likely to go further away from their home. When they eventually emerge, many times they want a quick, easy meal, opting for plants, berries and insects. If there is not enough to eat they may go looking for sustenance elsewhere that includes where people live.
However, Atamian expects after the very wet winter, there should be enough vegetation in bear country to keep them out of dumpsters and garages, and away from people for the most part.
He said the best way to deter bears if you live in or near their habitat is to take preemptive measures. He said not to leave pet food outside and lock-up garbage cans and dumpsters.
For more information on local bear habits, click here.