It’s spring. Living in the Snoqualmie Valley, locals know that means the resident bear population wakes up hungry and becomes more active.
Over the years as new residents move to Snoqualmie Ridge, city officials do their best to educate and remind citizens about the importance of storing garbage cans inside a garage or shed so as not to attract the bears to these neighborhoods smack dab in the bear country.
Many residents think fences will deter bears, but those large creatures are surprisingly agile and can easily scale a fence when the scent is right. This was a lesson I learned that hard way as a family of four bears invaded my fenced backyard for a diner smorgasboard.
Waste Management now offers Snoqualmie residents bear resistant garbage and yard waste containers for a small monthly fee – and they work. And they work.
But what do you do when you think you’ve done everything and there’s just no stopping a seemingly aggressive and hungry bear? That’s what one Snoqualmie family was left wondering after one of their pet chickens was eaten over weekend.
Taylor Evans lives on Cascade Ave along the 4th hole of TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. This section of homes cannot have back fences per community design standards and local bears often access yards and neighborhood streets via the golf course, which borders many ravines and wooded areas.
So Taylor says their garbage cans are safely stored inside the garage. They also don’t put their garbage cans curbside until collection morning because the bears were dragging them down the street if put out too early. The Evans do their best not to attract the bears.
Taylor explained they have two chickens and one bunny. They had a large home/coop (the bottom portion of a large gazebo) constructed for them in their backyard, completely locking and surrounded by reinforced steel mesh (not just chicken wire).
Late Friday night, April 10, 2015, a bear tore into the chickens’ home/coop, leaving claw marks and tearing back that reinforced steel mesh. Taylor explained the bear forcibly ripped its way into the animals’ home.
One of the chickens got away and the bunny hid. The incident was discovered when the house sitter arrived Saturday morning to check on the residence while the family was out of town. She was heart-broken to discover the remains of one pet chicken.
Taylor said the house sitter reported the bear also returned to the yard on Saturday night. The bunny and remaining chicken are now inside as she seeks new homes for them.
The incident was reported to Snoqualmie Police, who told the family to phone 911 if the bear was spotted again and they would try to tranquillize it. The Department of Fish and Wildlife was also notified of the aggressive bear.
According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife website, black bears are omnivores, but occasionlly they will attack livestock. Baxter Barn in Fall City also reported a bear livestock attack in July 2014.
Taylor said she wants other residents to be aware of the attack, and in the meantime she will not be letting her 11-year old child go to the nearby pond he often frequents while searching for frogs – at least not without an adult and not at dusk while the bear is at large.
A resident of the Braeburn neighborhood of Snoqualmie Ridge also reported bear sighting on April 9th around 2AM. She said the last bear sighting she had heard of in Braeburn was in early November.
Last year this neighborhood was frequently visited by a family of three bears and was where the infamous ‘bear lifting a garbage can over the fence‘ was filmed by a resident.
The City of Snoqualmie passed a new garbage ordinance over the summer in an attempt to deter bears from local neighborhoods. The new law makes it a Class 2 civil infraction to negligently feed wildlife by allowing wildlife access to garbage containers and a misdemeanor to intentionally feed wildlife by allowing them access to garbage containers.
Residents are subject to the misdemeanor charge after being issued an infraction for negligent feeding wildlife or having been notified in writing by the public works director to use a Wildlife-Resistant Garbage, according to the ordinance.