Chicken-hunting bear trapped near Quilcene; new home to be deep in Olympic Mountains

QUILCENE — A young black bear with a taste for fresh chicken was captured sometime during the night Tuesday near the Dabob Road home where it first ventured too close to humans last month.

State wildlife agents set a trap for the bear after it broke into Mark and Tami Pokorny’s chicken coop, which is attached to the family home right under the couple’s bedroom window, on Sept. 23.

It was the closest Mark Pokorny had ever seen a bear come to the house, he said.

“There’s one [bear] right down by our house, too,” remarked neighbor Suzanne Kimball, who stopped by to see what all the fuss was about when she spotted Phil Henry’s truck from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It was probably the same bear, Henry and Kimball agreed.

Inside the big green pipe of a steel trap, behind sturdy crossbars, the young bear hid its nose in its paws and “chopped,” the term used to describe the teeth grinding that bears do when they’re nervous and scared.

Henry secured the trap onto a trailer and prepared to haul the bear away from the somewhat too-civilized area with its scatter of rural homesteads to the Bon Jon Pass area in the Olympic National Forest near the Dungeness River and deep in the forest from Sequim.

“We can’t take them far enough away,” Henry said.

“I was thinking of taking this over to Kitsap [County] because they bring theirs over here,” he joked.

Once the door to the trap opens, a bear is quick to scamper away, said Henry, who has 34 years of experience with this kind of thing.

State Fish and Wildlife has received about 60 reports of bears making mischief or of sightings on the North Olympic Peninsula since October 2009, Henry said earlier this month.

The usual number is about two dozen, he said, adding that the reports are a “huge influx.”

Bears have been reported edging closer to populated areas throughout the western states in the last few months.

Theories as to the cause of the high number of bear reports range from a cool summer resulting in less food in the higher elevations to a cyclic spike in the bear population.

Bears are omnivorous scavengers who will eat what’s handy.

At the Pokornys’, the bear killed one chicken and was starting on a turkey, which survived after the bear was frightened away.

It came back the next night but was run off by the Pokornys’ big Anatolian shepherd, Das.

Tuesday night was the first time the bear had been spotted back at the Pokornys’ since he brought the trap, Henry said, adding that it was likely part of the bear’s regular “milk route.”

Or maybe it just likes the Pokornys’ chicken better than the pastry Henry originally left as bait.

________

Julie McCormick is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend. Contact her at juliemccormick10@gmail.com.

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