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ODFW: It’s bear season in Ashland

FILE PHOTO: A bear near the parking lot off of Winburn Way in Ashland across from Lithia Park, between Ashland Planning Office and the Civic Club House buildings. (Terry Skibby, submitted)

As of Friday, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife had already fielded multiple nuisance bear complaints in the city of Ashland, prompting the agency to remind residents that it’s the time of year when the animals leave forested areas in search of food.

ODFW reported receiving 10 bear complaints already in 2021, according to a news release.

In 2020, ODFW logged 103 complaints about bears inside city, including “aggressive actions, nuisance behaviors and loss of wariness,” the release said. Most of the incidents stemmed from bears gaining access to garbage, bird seed, compost and other materials the animals could eat.

Residents can help in a variety of ways:

  • 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 fruit trees.

“People should ’Be Bear Aware’ and do their part to avoid creating situations that are dangerous for people and bears,” ODFW Rogue District assistant wildlife biologist Mathew Vargas said in the release. “Black bears are wild animals that can behave unpredictably and may quickly become a human safety problem if habituated to human food.”

Anyone who encounters a bear is advised to stop and not approach the animal, giving it ample space and a way to escape. Stay calm, don’t run or make sudden movements. Face the bear and back away slowly, but avoid eye contact.

“In the unlikely event you are attacked, fight back,” the release said. “Shout, be aggressive, use rocks, sticks and hands.”

Report nonemergency bear activity in Ashland through the city’s bear reporting website, https://gis.ashland.or.us/bear/or, or by calling ODFW at 541-826-8774.

Dial 911 if there is an immediate threat to human health and safety.