[T]he state patrol has seen an increased number of bears this year in metropolitan areas. That's meant more 911 calls, and more danger for motorists avoiding others who slow down to take pictures of the animals.
"I think the issue in King County is not a bear problem, it's a people problem," [Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Kim] Chandler said, adding the department is on pace to match about 250 bear complaints received last year. "If you look at Issaquah, North Bend and places like that, you'll see new developments are carved right out of prime bear habitat.The I-90 bear isn't the only one making headlines in King County. There is a bear at large in Des Moines that was seen swimming briskly across Puget Sound from Maury Island, and a couple of bears have been showing up around schools in Redmond and on Vashon Island. The proximity of more people and the wild also results in more cougar sightings. I have lived here all my life and have never seen a cougar in the wild – only scat in places like Stevens Pass. But while somewhat rare, they are by no means unknown in our suburbs, especially places like Sammamish, Duvall, and Woodinville. Of course, I've never seen a Sasquatch, either, but plenty of people do apparently, in King County and around the state. If you want to track the cougar crime beat, check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's online cougar incident reports. Also, the WDFW Web site will tell you what to do if you spot a bear or cougar in your neighborhood and want to make a "dangerous wildlife complaint." Be aware, though, that such complaints can result in the death of the animal if it is deemed to be dangerous, or if officials have difficulty rounding it up. Who can forget the black bear that wandered into the University District neighborhood of Seattle last year and was chased, tasered, and darted – finally dropping dead. It was the first bear sighting within the city in recent memory. Its only crime was walking-while-being-furry. The accidental Seattle bear killing led some editorialists to call for more wildlife training for the cops, but given that the city can't maintain human law and order in certain neighborhoods, taking time off for wildlife training seems like an unwise use of resources. Perhaps a shared love of Krispy Kremes is all that's needed.
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