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Bear spotted roaming the streets of Issaquah

A bear spotted roaming the streets of Issaquah on May 24, 2023. (@JamesK19782009 on twitter)
A bear spotted roaming the streets of Issaquah on May 24, 2023. (@JamesK19782009 on twitter)
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It's that time of year again, when the bears wake up and start roaming into more populated areas in western Washington.

A bear was caught on camera trotting the streets of Issaquah Wednesday afternoon.

The video below captures what looks to be a black bear walking down an Issaquah sidewalk before crossing the street. While newcomers to the region might be shocked to see it, bears are often spotted within city limits, as are coyotes and bobcats. Bears are emerging from hibernation this time of year and are hungry.

Those who spotted the bear are recalling the shocking moment.

“A gentleman ran across the roadway and was trying to block all traffic, and I was trying to figure out what he was doing, and then in my rearview mirror, I saw the bear run right behind my vehicle," said James Kaylor, who took a video of the bear.

Kaylor tells KOMO News that the bear started running up the hill and went behind some apartment buildings. While he said it was exciting to see one so close, he still worried because of how many kids were around the area.

“There were tons of children on their way to school hanging out at the bus stop and walking around the area, so I drove up to see what was going on and saw some of the kids trying to chase after it with their phones out, trying to get it on video," he added.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) told KOMO News there was concern the bear was near Swedish Hospital’s Issaquah Campus and an apartment complex. They said that area is surrounded by thick forest, riparian areas, and greenbelts to the north, east, and south, and the bear left quickly without further incident.

DFW said these encounters can be more frequent in the Spring as bears become more active and are eagerly searching for high-calorie food after the winter. While this sighting was surprising to some people, others who work in the area said they're used to seeing bears this time of year.

“We see them a lot at home in my neighborhood, and they’re harmless," said Tara Reyes. "They usually just want to eat trash and bird feeders, so they’re fun to see, and they never bother people; they're usually pretty unbothered.”

While bear encounters can be a memorable experience, they can also be just as dangerous. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) said that approaching, disturbing, feeding, or unethically viewing bears is likely to have a negative or dangerous outcome.

FWS also said that the most common human-bear conflicts involve unsecured attractants like garbage and human food.

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FWS listed a multitude of ways that you can protect yourself during a potential future bear encounter:

  • Never approach bears, always remain at least 100 yards (300 feet) away, or about the length of a football field.
  • Practice ethical wildlife viewing by remaining a safe distance and never disturbing natural behaviors.
  • Never feed, leave food for, or make food accessible to bears.
  • Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in locked hard-sided vehicles or bear-resistant storage boxes.
  • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it is accessible.
  • Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails and make noise.
  • Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night.
  • Do not run if you encounter a bear.
  • Instead of traditional bird feeders, set up birdhouses or birdbaths, plant native flowers, or set up hanging flower baskets for hummingbirds.
  • Keep chickens and other small livestock properly secured using electric fencing or keep them inside a closed shed with a door.
  • Report bear sightings, encounters, and conflicts immediately to your state or tribal wildlife management agency.
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