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Bear keeps making appearances, but manages to elude captors

A year-and-a-half-old bear has been sighted numerous times around the region lately, but has managed to avoid capture up to this point. - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Graphic
A year-and-a-half-old bear has been sighted numerous times around the region lately, but has managed to avoid capture up to this point.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Graphic

A year-and-a-half-old black bear has continued to thwart the best efforts of Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers to capture it for nearly a week.

The bear was first sighted at the Abby Apartments, near Discovery Alternative High School, Marcus Whitman Junior High and Orchard Heights Elementary School around 11 a.m. on June 6.

Shortly thereafter, the schools went into a modified lockdown until the Department of Fish and Wildlife determined it was safe to go outdoors.

The Fish and Wildlife officers have concluded the bear has settled near the Manchester area and have received numerous phone calls alerting them to sightings.

On June 9, they received several phone calls from Manchester residents, saying they saw a black bear swimming towards Bainbridge Island.

The bear allegedly turned around and swam back to Port Orchard, though, said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Sgt. Ted Jackson.

Brian Horch, of Manchester, said he saw the bear while scuba diving.

“We saw what we thought was a seal,” he said. “Then we thought, ‘Seals don’t have (large) ears.’ ”

So he and his scuba diving partner watched it.

“There was a black bear, just doing fine, headed for Bainbridge Island,” he said. “He got out in the ferry line, and it looked like he may have changed his mind and come back to Port Orchard.”

It could have swum across if it had wanted to, said Jackson. “It was a pretty easy tide.”

The next day, a Manchester resident claimed the bear ran into the side of her car as she drove near the intersection of Woods Road and Beaver Creek Road around 10:50 a.m.

The car wasn’t damaged, and the bear lumbered off into the woods.

Fish and Wildlife officers have received calls about the bear since the accident, said Jackson, and they believe it’s still in the Manchester area.

Attempts to capture the animal have, so far included a tranquilizer dart, a bear dog and a trap baited with doughnuts doused in syrup.

The bear was shot with the dart near the McDonalds on Mile Hill Drive, but Fish and Wildlife officers believe it didn’t feel the full effects.

And the animal still hasn’t tried the doughnuts doused in syrup.

The officers have also stopped using a dog to try to capture or chase the animal.

If the bear continues north, it may not need to be relocated. But if it stays near people, then officers plan to move it.

“The plan is to capture the animal and locate it away from the urban area,” said Darren Friedel, public information officer for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, “in a more bear-friendly habitat” near the Olympic Peninsula.

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