ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Wildlife experts are fielding dozens of calls about a big black bear that has grown several sizes too large for its research collar and is now in need of help.
"I know we have staff in the field today working to find this bear," said Chase Gunnell with Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW).
Since the story of the bear hit the news, the tips have been pouring in.
"We have received about 47 tips on possible locations for black bears in the Issaquah area," said Gunnell.
The bear, caught on a trail camera in the High Valley area of Squak Mountain, remains on the loose, wearing a research collar that should have fallen off by itself long ago.
"He is a particularly crafty bear; he’s given us the slip," said Gunnell.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says staff has been trying to trap the bear for almost two years, but it's been very mobile.
"We have heard reports that he’s in one area, we will follow up with staff, biologists on the ground or traps, and he will disappear and pop up a few months later in a different area," Gunnell.
Gunnell says when bears get habituated to people—as this bear has become—they become more difficult to capture.
"This bear has also been utilizing areas close to residences, private property, places where we can’t easily capture the bear," said Gunnell.
He says to prevent habituating bears to humans, or human food, WDFW recommends that people put out their trash the morning of trash day, rather than the night before. It's also recommended that people remove bird feeders in the spring.
"We do have one trap out tin the field right now, and those are culvert traps—those are… large, round traps that the bear walks into, and then when he pulls on the bait, there will be a gate that falls down," said Gunnell.
Gunnell says trapping efforts will continue as the department continues the search for the elusive bear.
"If people do see a collared bear in the Issaquah area, please let us know," Gunnell.
Dave Wilkinson was one of the residents that caught the bear on his trail camera and alerted WDFW. FOX 13 News spoke with him Friday. He believes the collar is choking the bear and is hoping neighbors keep an eye out for the bear, so the animal can find some relief.
"Watch your Ring cameras, your trail cams, any security cams and let them know, so they can move the traps or come up with alternate ways to capture the bear," said Dave.
Anyone who spots a black bear with a collar in the Squak Mountain or Cougar Mountain areas near Issaquah is encouraged to immediately report it to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at 360-902-2936 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also report the sighting on the WDFW website.