“The Most Beautiful Bear” is back in the wild after an unsuccessful search for companionship that took him to 11 different islands, including Whidbey.

The adolescent black bear has made regional headlines after appearing in places where bears had not been seen in decades.

The five-week bear hike apparently started on Camano Island in late April.

The bear took the long, cold swim to nearby Whidbey, where Coupeville residents said they first saw him on April 29.

Several residents of North Whidbey spotted him as he sailed up the island over the next two days.

Ralph Downes, a law enforcement officer with the State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said the bear then swam across Deception Pass to Fidalgo Island. From there he swam to the Guemes Islands, Cyprus, Blakely, Orcas, Shaw, San Juan, Lopez and Decatur before returning to the mainland.

Downes said it was likely the bear was looking for a female to hang out with.

“I think he was looking, but I don’t think he was lost,” he said.

The bear was sighted in the Padilla Bay area before heading to more populated areas of Burlington, which is when wildlife experts became concerned. He climbed a tree behind the Home Depot and swam across the river to Mount Vernon.

On Saturday, fish and wildlife officers calmed the bear and moved it. Downes said he hadn’t seen the animal with his own eyes, but his fellow police officers were taken aback by the bear’s gentleness and good humor.

“They said it was the most beautiful bear they had ever met,” he said.

In fact, Downes said the bear showed no aggression towards anyone during its long hike. The only problems he caused were breaking a few bird feeders to get to the seeds and digging in a bin or two.

Downes initially estimated the pubescent bear to be around 300 pounds, but other officers guessed it weighed around 250 pounds when captured. The difference, Downes speculated, may be due to all the calories burned on his travels.

The bear’s journeys took him on a big loop, Downes said, and was eventually trapped a few miles from where he started. He was sent home and released into the wilderness of northern Snohomish County.

Downes said he hopes the bear finds a companion in the wild to appease his urge to travel.


Island hopping black bear captured at Mount Vernon will be released "on its own accord"


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