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Scarce Huckleberries Drive Northwest Bears to Lower Elevations

Anna King
09/29/2008

A cool, late spring has wrecked the Northwest's huckleberry crop this fall. That happens to be a bear's favorite snack right before its long winter's nap. So hungry bears have been heading down to lower elevations and even into cities. Richland Correspondent Anna King explains.

TRANSCRIPT

BEARS ARE COMING INTO CONTACT WITH HUMANS ACROSS THE NORTHWEST. NEAR LEAVENWORTH, WASHINGTON, SEVEN BEARS HAVE BEEN HIT BY CARS RECENTLY. EARLIER THIS YEAR IN SANDY, OREGON, A WOMAN WAS ATTACKED BY A BEAR OUTSIDE HER HOME. WILDLIFE OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN FIELDING HUNDREDS OF CALLS ABOUT BEAR SIGHTINGS. THEY CALL IT THEIR WORST YEAR EVER. THE BEARS ARE HUNGRY BECAUSE THERE IS LITTLE TO EAT IN THE REMOTE AREAS WHERE THEY USUALLY RESIDE. RICH BEAUSOLEIL IS WASHINGTON STATE'S BEAR AND COUGAR SPECIALIST. HE SAYS NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE PUT AWAY YOUR GARBAGE, DOG FOOD AND BIRD SEED.

BEAUSOLEIL: "Don't blame a bear for being a bear. I mean it's an opportunistic animal and it knows how to take advantage of a situation to survive. If we are leaving freebies out for 'em that's really a people problem not a bear problem."

HUCKLEBERRIES AREN'T THE ONLY FOREST FOOD IN SHORT SUPPLY THIS YEAR. THIMBLEBERRIES, SALMONBERRIES AND BLACKBERRIES HAVEN'T DONE WELL EITHER. THE FOOD SHORTAGE MIGHT EVEN MAKE BEARS WAKE UP EARLIER THIS WINTER, ABANDON THEIR CUBS OR HAVE MISCARRIAGES.

I'M ANNA KING IN RICHLAND.

© Copyright 2008, NWPR

01.22.18

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