Issaquah, WA

Exploring the Wild Side of Issaquah, Washington: A Glimpse at Bear Country

Lefty Graves
Bear enjoying the waterPhoto bymana5280onUnsplash

Nestled at the edge of the Cascade Mountain Range lies the city of Issaquah. While it’s not as populated as its neighbor, Seattle, it does have some interesting features that make it a fascinating town to live in.

One such feature is that Issaquah is known as “Bear Country.” In the Pacific Northwest, the spring and summer months are known as the ‘bear season’. This is the time of year when the bears come out of hibernation.

After sleeping for part of the fall and all of the cooler winter months, the bears are hungry. They’re in search of a meal, and they’re not overly particular about what it is. So what do hungry bears like to eat? Just about anything you can imagine. It’s not unusual to pull up to your garbage and find a bear rummaging through it, picking out delicacies to dine on. Other inviting sources of food include pet food that’s been left outside, bird feeders, unsecured garbage can’s and dumpsters, and just about any other food source that they can find.

What should I do if I encounter a bear in the wild?

While many bears remain hidden in the undergrowth, others have lost their fear of humans and pose a danger to themselves and others. If you do stumble upon a bear, it’s important to follow some safety protocols.

Never approach a bear. While bears may appear cute and cuddly, they’re not; they’re very dangerous. Bears are very territorial and will attack if they feel threatened. Remain at a safe distance and try to stay in your house or vehicle if you encounter a bear. If you’re not in your car or home, you need to back up slowly and don’t make any sudden movements. Above all, don’t feed the bear or leave any food down to entice it.

Make sure to make yourself appear larger than you are. Hold your arms over your head and stand on a rock or your toes to appear larger. Talk quietly between yourselves, and it’s okay to say, ‘go away’ to a bear, not that he or she will understand, but sometimes if they are spoken to, they will move on.

Don’t yell, don’t make a lot of noise, or they will come to investigate. Don’t run, they will take this as a challenge and chase you. Don’t look them in the eye but do look at them.

Bears are smart, and it doesn’t take them long to adapt and lose their fear of humans. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lessen the danger of a bear interacting with humans. If you see a small bear, it’s important to be aware that momma bear is somewhere nearby, even if you don’t see her. Momma bear will do just about anything to protect her cub, even if you’re not posing a threat to either of them.

Many residents carry bear spray or a bear horn when they’re out of doors. This gives them a sense of security; however, it’s important to understand when and how to safely use bear spray or a bear horn. Report any concerns to the WDFW. Be respectful and keep your distance, and most bears won’t bother you.

© Lefty Graves. 2023 All Rights Reserved.

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She writes about all things Washington. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington State.

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