SAMMAMISH, Wash. - Officials warn wildlife sightings and encounters such as bears and cougars could become more common this spring in Washington state.
On Tuesday, a Sammamish family got a pleasant surprise when they noticed not one, but two bears in their backyard.
"Out of the corner of my eye I saw something big and black moving through the trees and I’m like, ‘Oh gosh,’" said Parker Wutherich.
Wutherich captured the bear walking around his back yard on camera early Tuesday morning, and less than 24 hours prior, spotted a different bear.
"You can tell how big they are when they get up on their hind legs and they go up a tree. They’re big animals," said Wutherich.
These animal sightings aren't just in Sammamish. The city of Redmond put up warning signs at Farrell-McWhirter Farm Park, telling people what to do if they come in contact with a bear.
Another resident from Redmond in the area also saw a bear on her property on Monday.
"We were not afraid because we were indoors, but we were shocked and in disbelief because the bear was so close," said Laurence Raybois. "But it does intimidate you as far as going back outside and sitting in the yard for the rest of the day and even now walking in the woods, I’m much more cautious."
On Saturday, the U.S. Forest Service sent out an alert for the Baker Lake trail in the North Cascades, closing the trail after several people encountered a cougar exhibiting "unusual behavior", officials said.
Forestry officials don’t want to repeat what happened in 2018 after a cougar killed a mountain biker outside North Bend, the first fatal cougar attack in Washington state in 94 years.
Residents in Ephrata, Washington - near Wenatchee- spotted a cougar Tuesday in their neighborhood and at one point saw it entering a home. Wildlife officials were able to tranquilize the animal and Fish and Wildlife took the cougar to relocate it, according to KAPP.
According to Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Chris Anderson, most of the time during encounters, people have done something to attract the animal closer such as leaving out garbage or food.
"The big message is these animals aren't going away," said Anderson. "Things that people sometimes: ‘It’s driving me nuts. It’s getting into my garbage. It’s getting into my…’ Well, that’s it right there. It’s getting into these food sources and attractants that are high-calorie."
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