Fish and Wildlife agents create big scare to protect big bear

By and OWEN LEI / KING 5 News — May 16, 2010 

MAPLE VALLEY , Wash. – State fish and wildlife experts on Sunday did a “hard release” of a bear that was caught near Maple Valley.  

The 400-pound black bear had found a bee hive and showed up in the neighborhood three nights in a row. This time of year bears are waking up and hungry. “They’ll come and get your bird seed, they’ll come in and get your garbage, so it’s time to secure your garbage, it’s time to put your bird feed away,” said Bruce Richards, WSDFW Wildlife agent. 

In the past, they would drive the bear way up into the hills and release him there, but this time they tried a new tactic – release the bear where it was captured in hopes that he will get the message that this is not a good place for him.  

The hard release involves guns with blanks and soft rounds, noise makers, and a Karelian Bear Dog. “So he associates the barking and the yelling with not wanting to be here,” said Wendy Willette, Department of Fish and Wildlife. This way the bears get to keep living – and do so where they grew up. “It’s fair to the bear,” said Richards. 

Last year, using this method, agents released 12 bears and all but one stayed away.