SEQUIM — Just passing through?
A 2-year-old small black bear created a stir Saturday as it roamed Dungeness Landing County Park and the tide flats near 3 Crabs Road. State biologists tracked and eventually darted and transported the bear to the foothills of the Olympic Mountains for the safety of the animal and residents, state officials said this week.
Sgt. Kit Rosenberger of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Program said the sighting was quite rare, and residents told WDFW officers they hadn’t seen a bear in the area in 30-plus years.
The department had received several recent reports of bear sightings all the way from O’Brien Road between Sequim and Port Angeles to Old Olympic Highway and Agnew areas, Rosenberger said, before wildlife officers tracked it to Dungeness Landing County Park near Marine Drive late last week. Officers were on the scene and warned people to keep their distance, he said.
“The park is closed, but there were people there anyway,” Rosenberger said.
The bear, which stayed in the park about 14 hours, “was not in a hurry to leave,” he said, but wasn’t aggressive toward people.
Wildlife officers tried to bait the animal into a trap but the bear didn’t take to the sweets — a good sign, Rosenberger said, since that indicates the bear isn’t dependent on human food.
Officers then tried to shoo the bear toward the Dungeness River to make its way southward toward the mountains but, as Rosenberger noted, “the bear wanted to go for a stroll on the beach.”
It meandered on the tide flats toward Jamestown beaches and 3 Crabs area.
“(Officers) were telling people to keep their distance,” Rosenberger said.
As the bear neared houses, officers on the scene decided to dart the bear and remove it, he said.
“It was the safest thing for the bear and people,” Rosenberger said.
After it was darted, the bear was given a quick check-up, deemed healthy and then was tagged in case there are more sightings, he said.
The bear was then released in the upper Dungeness watershed, he said.
As for advice for residents who come upon a bear?
“Keep your distance,” Rosenberger said. “Bears, for the most part, are not aggressive toward people.”
If there is a concern for personal safety or property, he advised calling the WDFW enforcement office at 360-902-2936.
To see a video of the bear’s stroll on the beach taken by Sequim photographer John Gussman, visit vimeo.com/406672771.