Black bear spotted in the Morey's Landing neighborhood
When a neighbor inquired about paw prints on a patch of grass in the Morey's Landing neighborhood last weekend, Brian Carskadon's interest was piqued.
He decided to check his own Ring surveillance camera to see if there were any wild animals captured on the footage. Sure enough, the camera caught what appeared to be a black bear walking across his driveway a few feet from his car at 12:15 a.m. Carskadon soon spotted bear feces discarded on his front lawn.
"I actually thought it was pretty neat that in the city we got to see some of that wildlife," he said. "I think there's people that are probably more afraid of something like that. I think people were concerned about their pets, and maybe their kids and all that. But to see something that is unique literally in your front yard, I always think that's pretty interesting."
Other neighbors in the Morey's Landing area as well as representatives from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the city of Wilsonville also reported or heard about a black bear that sauntered near the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant and potentially on the other side of the Willamette River near Butteville Road (black bears are adept swimmers) in late May. To those who saw it, it's unknown where the bear — which appeared young and relatively small — came from or where it went.
While the last grizzly bear in Oregon was killed in the 1930s, there are around 30,000 black bears in Oregon and they can live in a variety of forested areas. The bears mostly eat berries, fruits, grass and sometimes animals.
"It's a high-activity time of year for bears and they tend to follow natural corridors like river systems. With both these sightings being along the Willamette River we'd expect to have bears popping up in those areas," ODFW biologist Kurt License wrote via email.
Along with Carskadon's footage, resident Carl Worth snapped pictures of the bear behind his property in a ravine near the Willamette River. The bear wasn't paying attention and lazily meandered toward the river, Worth said. He normally sees raccoons, deer or skunks, but had never seen a bear near his property.
"It was an odd thing to see but not concerning or frightening. It seemed gentle and uninterested in us," Worth said.
Wilsonville Natural Resources Manager Kerry Rappold, who has worked at the city for about 20 years and has facilitated wildlife monitoring efforts, said he's encountered or observed bobcats and cougars in Wilsonville, but never a bear. He added that the sighting in an area zoned for protection of natural resources shows that the city has done good work to safeguard those environments from encroachment.
As for steps that could be taken, Rappold said residents should be cautious about what food they leave outside but that black bears typically aren't looking to confront humans. An ODFW release suggests that people who encounter a bear should not approach it, slowly walk away rather than run and raise their voice and speak firmly if needed.
"I've had a number of close encounters with black bears where I've been able to scare them away. From my perspective a cougar and grizzly bear are much more of a risk than a black bear," Rappold said.
He added: "I think anytime you have a wildlife species like that that's not a common occurrence it can be a concern, especially something that could be viewed as a risk in some way. With the appropriate steps, though, people are going to be safe."
Michelle Dennehy with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said spotting a black bear is no cause for alarm, but residents should notify the department. To contact the department about a bear sighting, call 503-621-3488.
For his part, Carskadon hoped the bear would stick around the periphery of the community.
"As long as we don't do anything foolish as a community here, he won't cause any problems," he said.
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