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Wildlife officers trying to lure Bellevue black bear
Wildlife officials are using a mixture of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, maple syrup and salmon to lure a bold black bear that alarmed residents in Bellevue's Somerset neighborhood Thursday afternoon.
Sgt. Kim Chandler of the state Fish and Wildlife department said the bear was aggressive and acting far too comfortable around humans.
One Somerset resident who saw the bear on his front porch told Wildlife officials that the animal tried to enter his garage and front doors – despite attempts to frighten the animal away.
Chandler caught up with the bear while it was treed in the south Bellevue neighborhood. He said the 70- to 80-pound animal stamped its feet, snapped its jaws, and flung spit at him as he prepared a tranquilizer dart.
"That's a bear that's absolutely lost its fear of people," Chandler said.
The animal backed down from the tree and ran away before Chandler could fully load his tranquilizer rifle.
Agents have since been trying to lure the bear into a trap so they can move it back to the wilderness with a "hard release," a process that aims to permanently scare the animal from civilization with Karelian bear dogs and loud noises.
Wildlife officials generally won't try to capture bears unless the animals show aggressive behavior or appear to have lost their fear of humans.
Instead, the agency repeats age-old warnings about removing common food sources – like bird feeders, garbage, pet food, and sticky barbecue grills – that can tempt bears.
"It's a message we have to repeat every single year," Chandler said. "We'd like to have a law that makes it a crime to feed wildlife, intentionally or unintentionally."
Chandler says bears emerge from their dens this time of year and begin looking for the easiest high-energy food they can find.
Wildlife officials estimate that the Bellevue bear is probably around 18 months old, and was likely separated from its mother recently, when it was able to live on its own.
Fish and Wildlife has responded to several reports of bear sightings in recent weeks, including one incident near a Tacoma middle school.
Officers captured that bear and released it into the Cascades on Wednesday.
The recent sightings have occurred just in time for national Bear Awareness Week, which runs May 16-22.