North Bend’s Princess Ursus Americanus: A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time, in the land of the Pacific Northwest, there was a quiet, quaint kingdom of the Evergreen Valley.

This valley was nestled up against a stunning snowy mountain range to the east and was far hence from the kingdoms in the west. In the beginning, settlers & native valley residents lived harmoniously in the natural beauty of this peaceful lodging.

But soft, over time, as the west became more developed, the western natural spaces disappeared, and the subjects of those kingdoms hath lost their connection to nature.

Whereas the valley kingdom was vast in dimension but humble in citizenry, the westerners did start taking notice of this magnificent, peaceful lodging leaving their more populated cities behind to start over fresh in the Evergreen Valley.

Small towns became larger, and homes were built where enormous timberlands once stood. Some valley residents resented the changes, but nevertheless, there was still plenty of room for everyone to co-exist peacefully with a small amount of effort.

This is the tale of one western princess who suffered enormous tragedy at which hour the lady hath moved to the peaceful Evergreen valley

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

This princess never very much did belong in the west; the neighborhood in which the lady lived didn’t understand her, and there were too many ways to be a naughty royal. The powers that be gifted the young lady a golden earring and told her she was henceforth banished from the western kingdom.

So, at which hour the princess was given the opportunity to start a new life in the valley, she took the bait, and in the blink of an eye, the lady hath found herself in a new location.

Moving can be sore and not at each moment immediately successful, but the lady hit the ground running to try. The valley hadst all the things the lady did need to live a successful life; the lady just did need a chance and some cooperation from the local villagers.

Her first location wasn’t to her liking, so the mistress hath moved a bit closer to town and did get to know her fellow forest dwellers. Initially, she tried to take advantage of the natural beauty and abundance of the area, but old demons did tempt her.

Still, the princess tried to resist temptation, met her prince and settled into a cold valley winter to await the delivery of her firstborn. The birth and spring came with a sense of renewal, but sadly her mischievous quirks put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, and her newborn had perished.

The next year was marked by self-destructive behavior made worse by townspeople who, even though they were aware of her nature, enabled her downward spiral. Another season ended with the princess fat,  in poor health and once again childing.

Her second youngster survived but the lady spent the next two years dragging the tot around to all her old haunts, looking for an easy meal, teaching her young prince lacking valor habits. The villagers now claimed to be sick of her behavior but did nothing to stop or help her.

At which hour the princess was last seen in the Evergreen Valley, she had given birth to three more royals and was dragging them around town just like the last two. By now, the local townsfolk had lost all tolerance for the princess with the golden earring, although doing nothing to change her plight, and her happily ever after appeared to now be in peril.

So where did the princess with the golden earring come from, and who is she? Well, we don’t know the where, but we do know the who.  

The princess with the golden earring, aka Daisy, Sam, or, at my house, “*&#@%^ she’s in the neighbor’s trash again,” is a LARGE female bear.

According to Rich Beausoleil, Statewide Bear &Cougar expert for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the department has two ear tag colors that they use on bears, red and yellow. Red=research, which means it was captured as a research animal and likely collared at one point, with no contact with people.   

A yellow ear tag (sometimes coupled with a collar) means this was a bear captured by non-research staff, most commonly officers, and was in a situation around people, such as getting into attractants like garbage, birdseed, and fruit trees. 

The princess at a conscientious home in the valley

Says Beausoleil, “Many of these bears are simply released within their home range, and the attractants addressed.  However, yellow lets us know that the bear was previously captured in a developed area; the number allows us to know exactly which bear it is, and a database is kept on its history.”

So, this bear was likely captured somewhere more populated than the Snoqualmie Valley and brought here to keep her safe.

We’re failing our bear princess tremendously.

According to the WDFW’s information on preventing conflict, “Bears tend to avoid humans. However, human-habituated bears are bears that, because of prolonged exposure to people, have lost their natural fear or wariness around people. Human-food-conditioned bears are those that associate people with food. Such bears can become aggressive in their pursuit of a meal.[1]

Furthermore, the WDFW notes that 95% of the calls to offices are the result of irresponsibility on the part of people: Access to trash, pet food, bird feeders, and improper storage of food while camping make up most of the calls.

We can lock up our attractants; this includes garbage, pet food and birdseed (including chicken feed.) Clean up around fruit trees, make sure barbeques are clean and odor-free and don’t leave personal care products (scented candles or air fresheners) outdoors.

If you see a bear, admire it from afar for a few precious moments and then yell, stomp your feet, clap your hands and convince it that people places are no fun.  

Additionally, Beausoleil requests that people report sightings of bears, especially ear-tagged bears, to our local WDFW office. Reporting sightings immediately is important; people can help bears so much more by doing so as it allows the WDFW to intervene and not let the situation progress.  

Says Beausoleil, “Many people think that if they call WDFW, the animal may be killed.  That just isn’t the case – and they aren’t doing the bear any favors – we aren’t going to kill animals for taking advantage of calories.  But we need to stop the cycle of rewards so the bear doesn’t become habituated.  That may involve the capture of the bear, but it also includes talking to people and trying to get folks to stop rewarding the bears (intentionally or unintentionally).”

So please help our valley bears by doing the right thing.

[You may also contact info@livingsnoqualmie.com for a ‘Living in Bear Country’ pamphlet]


[1] https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/ursus-americanus#conflict

Speak Your Mind

*

%d bloggers like this: