In early May, a resident of Orcas Island looked out the window to see a black bear nibbling in its bird feeder.

This gave it a start for one simple reason: black bears don’t live on the islands of Puget Sound. Which means he had to swim a long time to find himself in his backyard.

It turns out that this particular bear was on an island hopping adventure. It has been spotted on San Juan, Lopez, Decatur, and Blakeley Islands, among others.

Bill Radke of The Record spoke to naturalist Lyanda Haupt, naturalist, about what pushes bears in water.

Lyanda Haupt talks about bears

Bill Radke talks with Lyanda Haupt about the bears on Orcas Island.

Interview highlights

Why did the bear swim to the islands?

“He’s looking for the same thing we’re all looking for: a place that has a good habitat, a place to live that has enough food, and a place to find a partner who is not related to you,” Haupt said.

In this case, she said he was an active and energetic young man, but one who might not be looking for a partner yet.

“Black bears don’t reproduce until they are mature enough, at least three to five years old and sometimes older,” she said.

“That’s good advice,” Radke said.

“That’s what I tell my daughter,” she said.

How is the bear?

“The bear appears to be healthy, just young.

“It is true that it pushes the boundaries of what is typical for us in terms of dispersal of young bears. But the people at Fish and Wildlife I spoke to don’t worry about the bear.

“They’re like ‘Wow, that’s really overcoming some awesome barriers,’” Haupt said.

How to be good coexists with bears

“It’s not rocket science: 99% we are the ones who properly manage our food and waste.

“In town, that could just mean putting the lid on tight to keep the raccoon out. In the bear area, like when we go out to Snoqualmie, a tight-fitting lid won’t keep a 300-pound male bear out of your trash. .You must have a real chain, or better yet, keep it in the garage or a closed shed.

“If your waste managers come to pick up your garbage in the morning, instead of dropping it off at night, just get up early and drop it off in the morning. A little inconvenient, but a small price to pay to live in this beautiful place adjacent to wildlife. “

Do not feed the birds

“A suet feeder and handfuls of birdseed: it’s irresistible [to a bear].

“I hate to say this because people love to feed birds: feeding birds is something we do primarily for ourselves. He brings in birds so that we can admire and appreciate them.

“But right now the birds don’t need any extra food at all. It’s a myth that if you have bird feeders and take them out, the birds will starve to death.”

For more information on protecting your home from bears, Haupt suggests checking out the Washington Fish & Wildlife site.

Produced for the web by Kara McDermott.


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