Bears issues increase in Ashland

ASHLAND, Ore. – Ashlanders are being told to take extra steps to avoid feeding bears after one was killed near Lithia Park.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, there has been an uptick in bear activity within Ashland city limits.

Wildlife officials said, “Since the beginning of March, ODFW has documented 29 complaints about bears inside city limits, including aggressive actions, nuisance behaviors, and loss of wariness. Many of these incidents are the result of access to garbage, birdseed, compost, or other types of food rewards.”

ODFW said Wednesday morning, a bear that was repeatedly spotted in a dense neighborhood near Lithia Park had to be put down. Meat from the bear will be donated to someone in need.

“People should ‘Be Bear Aware’ and remember black bears are wild animals that can behave unpredictably, and may quickly become a human safety problem if habituated to human food,” said Steve Niemela, ODFW Rogue District Wildlife Biologist. “Bears just do what bears do, it’s all of our job collectively to avoid creating situations that are dangerous for people and bears.”

“Protecting public safety is our top priority, but this is the worst part of any wildlife biologist’s job,” Niemela explained. “I’m imploring residents of Ashland to please limit food sources for bears so they will leave this area and we won’t need to kill any more bears.”

Wildlife officials and Ashland police are asking the public to take the following steps to prevent bears from getting food within the city:

  • Never feed bears.
  • Put garbage cans out just before pick-up.
  • Recology Ashland offers bear-resistant cans, call 541-482-1471.
  • Keep pet food inside.
  • Remove bird feeders.
  • Keep BBQ grills clean or in garage.
  • Clean up fruit under trees.

If you encounter a bear:

  • STOP: Never approach a bear at any time for any reason. If you see bear cubs leave the area.
  • GIVE IT SPACE: Give any bear you encounter a way to escape.
  • STAY CALM: Do not run or make sudden movements. Face the bear and slowly back away.
  • AVOID EYE CONTACT: Don’t make eye contact with the bear.
  • DON’T RUN: It may encourage the bear to chase you.
  • FIGHT BACK: In the unlikely event you are attacked, fight back, shout, be aggressive, use rocks, sticks and hands.

Bear activity in Ashland can be reported to the city at:  https://gis.ashland.or.us/bear/

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