Oh deer, there's a bear swimming in the lake

Long Lake resident Pam La Vigne snapped a photo Tuesday afternoon of what she thought was a deer swimming in Long Lake in front of her house.

But after a family member told her there was a bear sighting that day, she took a closer look at the image on her camera.

“I zoomed in, and sure enough — it was a bear,” La Vigne said, explaining that she keeps the camera right by her window to catch the eagles and other wildlife that are often outside. “But, I’ve lived here 20 years, and I’ve never seen a bear.”

La Vigne said she has been watching the water constantly to see if the bear comes back, and is afraid to have her four children playing in the water now.

“I’m nervous,” she said, explaining that she will still allow the kids to enjoy their daily wakeboarding or waterskiing, but she will definitely be keeping a close watch on them.

La Vigne is even a bit worried to go outside herself, and said that she was glad nothing happened to her when she ran out to capture more pictures of the “deer” on Tuesday.

“I saw it get out of the lake and go into some brush, so I ran out with my camera and waited where I thought it would come out, but it never did,” she said, explaining that she was glad now that it didn’t. “If I had known it was a bear, I never would have done that.”

Jason Langbehn, an agent with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife who covers Kitsap County, said he and his fellow regional agent are currently getting calls about bear sightings almost daily.

“They’re very active this time of year, mostly out looking for food,” Langbehn said, explaining that bears are known to come into yards in search of an “easy meal” such as bird feeders or garbage.

If residents see bears in their yards, Langbehn said his first advice is to remove whatever attracted the animal to the house, if they know what it was, and anything else that could be tempting.

He said his department typically does not try and trap an animal unless it is becoming a consistent problem, such as returning again and again to a particular house, or attacking people or domesticated animals.

Langbehn said most of the reports of bear sightings he receives are in North Kitsap, such as Hansville and Indianola.

Langbehn said if residents want to report bear sightings or get more information, to contact the regional Fish and Wildlife office at (360) 249-4628.

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