The 2 1/2 black bear that was captured on Snoqualmie Ridge this week by Department of Fish and Wildlife agents has significant puncture wounds to his eyes, according to PAWS Community Relations Manager, Mark Coleman.
Coleman says PAWS believes the bear’s eyes were injured by either rock salt or rice, which sometimes people load into shot guns to shoot at bears and scare them away. The bear’s eyes were x-rayed which revealed no foreign objects still embedded in them and no traces of metals or lead were found.
PAWS is bringing in a specialist tomorrow, June 28th, to determine if the bear’s puncture wounds are repairable. If the wounds are not repairable the bear will be put down. According to PAWS, this is one of the “most humane” things they can do for injured animals who cannot be reintroduced and/or survive in the wild due to their injuries or impairments. Coleman was slightly hopeful for the bear, explaining that even though his injuries were “significant,” if there was no hope he would have been put down immediately. Instead, a specialist is being brought in for the final evaluation.
Coleman said PAWS does have working relationships with area zoos, but in most cases they will not take in injured animals, much of that because of the funding required to deal with the handicapped and injured animals.
There have been 12 bear sightings reported to Snoquamie Police since June 1st. PAWS says this could be attributed to our area’s late summer. Some of the bears’ normal food sources haven’t produced their berries yet, which draws bears into neighborhoods looking for alternative food. As Washington state has done a good job of preserving greenbelts all the way from the mountains to the sound, this also contributes to giving bears a path into neighborhoods across our region.
Colman says PAWS Wildlife Center usually is caring for 5-7 bear cubs at any given time. The cubs never see a human during their time at PAWS. This is because the cubs cannot associate humans with food if they are to be reintroduced to the wild and survive. For more information on PAWS visit their website.
For now the Snoqualmie bear is awake, eating and walking the wildlife run at the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood. He was not given a name. More information on the bear’s future should be known by the end of the week.