ALL ABOUT BEARS is the feature Streamkeeper Academy event at the Adopt A Stream Foundation’s Northwest Stream Center in Snohomish County’s McCollum Park (600 –128th Street SE, Everett, WA 98208) on Saturday, February 23, at 1pm. Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer Nick Jorg, who has been featured on Animal Planet, will conduct a very lively and entertaining presentation about grizzly and black bears in Washington State. However, his partner Colter and new assistant Freyja may steal the show; they are Karelian bear dogs that help resolve bear/people conflicts. This is a fun event for the whole family! Pre-registration is required by calling 425-316-8592; $5 members, $7 non-members. Attendance bonus: before or after the bear show you will have an opportunity to walk on the Northwest Stream Center’s 1/2 mile-long Elevated Nature Trail!!
In Washington State, black bears live in a diverse array of forested habitats, from coastal rainforests to the dry woodlands of the Cascades’ eastern slopes. In general, black bears are strongly associated with forest cover, but they do occasionally use open country, such as forest clearings and the fringes of other open habitat. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, between 25,000 and 30,000 Black bears are found throughout Washington State. Also, much to the surprise of most Washingtonians, there are a few grizzly bears in the State who reside in the North Cascades!
As human populations encroach on black bear habitat, people and bears have greater chances of encountering each other. Bears usually avoid people, but when bears and people come into close proximity, the bear’s strength and surprising speed can make for a dangerous situation. Most conflicts result from people living in bear country carelessly attracting bears with improperly contained garbage or pet food outside their homes. And, to most people’s surprise, they are also attracted to bird feeders! Bears have a great sense of smell. The average dog’s sense of smell is 100 times better than humans. A bloodhound is 300 times better. A bear’s sense of smell is 7 times better than a bloodhound or 2,100 times better than a human! If you are in bear country, chances are that the local bears will smell you coming their way.
Officer Jorg spends most of his time addressing conflicts between people and bears. “In the old days, we used to capture problem bears and relocate them to a different area,” says Jorg. “We learned that the bears did not fare too well and, now, after educating the human part of the equation, we capture problem bears near where the conflict occurred. Then, our bear dogs help us scare the bears and make them understand that contact with people is not a good idea.”
Jorg says that, “During the show, Colter, Freyja and I are going to teach everyone about bear habits and habitat requirements. Then we will go over all the Do’s and Don’ts in Bear Country. At the end of the show, there is going to be a simulated bear capture, and the audience will help ‘scare the bear’ (a WDFW staffer in a bear skin) away from the NW Stream Center.” This Streamkeeper Academy event will be fun for the whole family - but be prepared - you could get your face licked by a bear dog!