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WDFW: Take photo, then scare bears out of your backyard

If a bear ambles into your yard, go ahead and take a picture, then scare it away. That’s the latest advice for bears from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There’s been a big uptick in the number of bear encounters in King County over the last couple of weeks. This is about the time when they wake up from hibernation. There have been bear sightings in Sammamish and Eastgate in recent years.

“OK, take your picture first, then get into action and by action I mean clap your hands, yell, throw things at that bear,” WDFW Sergeant Kim Chandler told KIRO 7 TV.

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He stresses that bears don’t belong in your yard, or on the street. He says it’s important to let them know they’re not welcome.

“We have to make sure that that bear is not welcome there,” Chandler said. “They don’t belong in your backyard. They don’t belong on your street.”

To that end, you should yell at them, throw stuff at them, and make lots of noise. Chandler says that paintball guns work great, especially if they’re loaded with frozen paintballs.

The department also offers a helpful pamphlet which offers “Beary Smart Solutions to Keep Bears Wild and Away from Your Home and Stuff.” King County also has a Bear Smart Facebook page.

Bear encounters aren’t entirely uncommon in Washington state, where about 25,000 black bears are estimated to live. According to the WDFW:

If you spend time outdoors, your chances of seeing a black bear in Washington are fairly good. Attacks on humans are extremely rare; Black bears are not aggressive and avoid people. In North America approximately 45 fatalities have been attributed to black bears since 1900. Only one fatality and four attacks have been recorded in Washington. Most confrontations with bears are a result of surprise encounters at close range or bears protecting their cubs. Bears are attracted to food and odors.

While running into black bears is most likely, there are reports of grizzlies in parts of Washington, particularly the northeastern region and in the north Cascades.

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