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Letting the Wild Find You on Oregon Coast: Bears, Elk, Seals Right Now

Published 11/09/22 at 5:49 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Letting the Wild Find You on Oregon Coast: Bears, Elk, Seals Right Now

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(Oregon Coast) – Winter may be descending quickly on the Oregon coast but interesting wildlife sights still abound. In fact, you may get more of an eyeful than you think when it comes to bears. (Photo courtesy ODFW)

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) just released another one of its wildlife reports on Oregon and the coastline, saying black bears may be more visible and watching pinnipeds may still be prime as well.

Black bear hunting season has been open for awhile and runs through December 31. They are quite active right now, said ODFW, as they prepare for winter.

“Black bears are more active during this time of year as they are entering hyperphagia (basically they are eating a lot),” ODFW said. “During this time, they will feed for up to 20 hours a day and can consume up to 20,000 kcal (kilocaleries) in a day. Expect them to be eating at any remaining bushes and trees with fruit still on them.”

Letting the Wild Find You on Oregon Coast: Bears, Elk, Seals Right Now
Above: elk at Cannon Beach. Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

As cold weather kicks in, they focus on pigging out, especially on anything that could yield the largest helping of nutrition for them. With natural berries and such no longer producing in the wilds of Oregon coast forests, they turn their attention to tearing up logs for insects, looking for the carcasses of dead animals and chomping on mushrooms.

Oregon coast residents, however, may find them a nuisance and will have to take some precautions.


Bear tracks on a beach near Brookings, courtesy ODFW

“However, make sure you keep your own garbage and household attractants secure from bears,” ODFW said. “While these animals are amazing to observe, we don’t want them in our garbage cans and bird feeders.”

An interesting aside is that your encounters with elk and deer may be a little more intense. They're looking to mate right now, and that is heating up. Bulls and bucks are moving about during the day a lot more, searching for females.

“This can provide some excellent wildlife viewing opportunities in meadows, thinned timber strands and clear-cuts,” ODW said. “However, use caution while driving in high use wildlife corridors as there typically is an increase of wildlife collisions during this time of year.”

See how to deal with elk on the Oregon coast.

Near Coos Bay, on the south Oregon coast, many seals and sea lions are still present at Simpson's Reef along the Cape Arago Highway. Right about now is a great time check the area out, as you can stand far enough from them for mutual safety while still be able to observe and hear them.


Sea lion wandering Warrenton (photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Around the Oregon coast, harbor seals and sea lions are the easiest mammals to see, often found in bays as they lounge on piers, tideflats or sandbars. They are entertaining.

ODFW said good locations include the South Jetty of the Columbia River, sandbars in Netarts Bay, near the mouth of the Siletz River, Yaquina Bay between the jetties and along the bay front of Newport, as well as Alsea Bay at Waldport. On the south coast, look to Rogue Reef near Gold Beach, Cape Arago and Simpson Reef.

Rarely-seen elephant seals may be spotted at Simpson Reef.

Most of these areas provide plenty of space, but should you encounter one on the beach you need to be prepared.

“PLEASE, remember that feeding any marine mammal is illegal,” ODFW said. “Feeding can cause of host of problems including a loss of natural wariness towards humans, which may lead to confrontations with humans, both wildlife watchers and recreational users. Seals and sea lions can become aggressive and can weigh more than 350 and 1,000 pounds, respectively. These animals should be viewed, and enjoyed, from a distance.”

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Simpson Reef at Cape Arago near Coos Bay (courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast)

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