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Beware of Bears on Oregon Coast Due to Late Berry Crops, Say Officials

Published 06/25/22 at 5:25 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Beware of Bears on Oregon Coast Due to Late Berry Crops, Say Officials

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(Oregon Coast) – Spotting a bear on the Oregon coast may become uncomfortably easy, and it's likely some local residents will begin to encounter them in one way or another, even if it's just a scattered load of garbage now and then. (Above: photo Oregon State Parks. Bear tracks along the beach near Brookings. Uncropped version is below)

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said a late salmonberry crop along the Oregon coast will mean hungry black bears and thus some problem bears.

Normally, salmonberries fully ripen in May, but this extended and extremely cold, wet spring has greatly slowed or even disrupted that this year. ODFW said many areas are still seeing a large amount of unripened berries, even pollination failure. This has resulted in a lot less berries than usual – and that's the favorite chomping item of local bears.

“Thimbleberries are behind schedule on the north coast although if forecasted clear weather occurs there may be hope for the upcoming huckleberry and blackberry crops,” ODFW said.

This leaves quite a few hungry bears searching for food in all the wrong places, becoming determined to rummage through the trash of residents, and nosing around things like bird feeders, barbecue grills, pet food, and feed for chickens and other livestock. In some instances, they'll kill livestock. Bears that get accustomed to wandering neighborhood streets or those even simply get introduced to human garbage quickly begin to create safety concerns as they will approach people or sometimes try to break into homes.

Bears get into garbage at Seal Rock (photo ODFW)

ODFW spoke to Oregon Coast Beach Connection several years ago regarding bear incidents in Waldport and Yachats at the time. They said bears often go in search of food that's easily accessible from residential garbage cans.

ODFW said the best remedy is prevention and urge coastal residents to secure food, garbage, and recycling.

Help keep bears wild by following these BearWise tips:

• Never feed or approach bears
• Secure food, garbage and recycling
• Remove bird feeders when bears are active
• Never leave pet food outdoors
• Clean and store grills
• Alert neighbors to bear activity

ODFW also suggests using bearproof garbage cans if you can obtain them from local waste management firms or keep your garbage and recycling secure until collection day comes around. Electrified fencing is also a good deterrent.

Bears that get habituated to human foods can become aggressive defending their finds and then pose a serious threat to humans. If prevention measures fail to deter a bear that has become a problem, they are humanely euthanized. Meat is then donated to local charities.

Keeping food and other attractants secured is vital to not only human safety but keeping bears safe as well by assuring they stay in the wild.

Local campgrounds may have to get in on these safety measures as well. You'll likely signs are posted in some campgrounds and along the neighborhood streets on many rural sections of the Oregon coast regarding bears and how you should keep your garbage locked up.

Bears are not uncommon in much of the coastline, including the forest hills above Cannon Beach. In 2019, an Oregon State Parks ranger caught a photo of bear tracks Whaleshead Beach in Brookings (see at top).

For more information on black bears and tips for living with them, check the ODFW website. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photos below of bear tracks at Tillicum Beach near Yachats, courtesy Jo Leach

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