LEAVENWORTH — State Fish and Wildlife officers killed an adult female black bear and captured two young-adult offspring bears blamed for growing conflicts with humans in and around a Leavenworth city park.
The two "yearling" bears, estimated at 16 to 18 months old, were captured in livetraps starting late Tuesday and relocated away from the busy tourist town, said Capt. Mike Jewell with Fish and Wildlife Enforcement. The adult female was discovered hiding up a tree Wednesday morning in the Enchantment Park complex along the Wenatchee River, It was darted with a tranquilizer, then euthanized.
"We never want to have to kill any animals, but we just can’t take the chance in terms of the potential risk to the public that that bear may seek out human contact or human food in the future," Jewell said Thursday. "The result could potentially be much worse."
The adult bear was reported to have lunged at a male jogger who was running on the Enchantment Park trails June 5, forcing him to flee into the Wenatchee River for safety. The bear was accompanied by at least one of its young, and was frequently sighted around the busy park in the following week.
Wildlife agents planted livetraps in the hope of catching the bears. One of the yearlings blundered into a traps Tuesday night, and the second was found in another trap about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jewell said. About 8 a.m., officers encountered the female, who again "behaved aggressively" and then took refuge up a tree, Jewell said. She was found to be an older female; Jewell said he was unsure of her exact size and age.
The yearling bears were likely born in winter 2017-18, and Jewell said they were at the age when juvenile bears begin to separate from their parent. That drift usually starts in midsummer. Jewell said the two younger bears were relocated far enough from Leavenworth to make it unlikely they'll return.
"She was probably training her offspring to do the exact same thing, which is feed on human food, remain in an area where there’s a lot of human activity — and it just was creating an unsafe situation," he said.
Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013