Garbage equals food? Training the average Ridge bear | Opinion

It’s in the nature of a dog to protect its owner and its home.

And it’s in the nature of black bears to flee when threatened. But only to a point. That point was about 100 yards into the woods, on the early hours of Thursday, Jan. 2, when this particular Ridge bruin turned and showed his teeth and claws to the pursuing dog, who did not survive the encounter.

Anyone who’s ever loved their pet, as I and everyone on the Record’s staff do, is sad to learn of someone’s little dog being killed.

Beyond the fact of this deadly encounter, however, is the wider truth that bears and people are both in very close proximity throughout this Valley, but nowhere, it seems, more so than in Snoqualmie.

The bears aren’t going away. Neither are the people.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the issue here is trash, trash, trash. Bears aren’t hibernating because the pickings, from local trash cans, are so darn plentiful. Your food waste is a calorie bonanza. Bears aren’t dumb. Stinky, rotten food is an easy, scrumptious smorgasbord to them, and they soon equate garbage bins with buffets, teaching these food sources to their cubs. To a bear, the sight, smell and sound of human beings go from being a dangerous foe to a minor irritant. That’s a problem. And when your dog gets into a scrap with a bear that no longer fears humans, he can bring the angry bruin right back to you. That’s downright, deadly dangerous.

So do yourself and your neighbors a favor. If you live remotely close to a wild area, and that’s, honestly, most of the Valley, keep your trash inside until the morning of garbage day, or lock it in a bear-proof container, which are now available in ever-smaller and more affordable forms. Or better yet, do both, if you can. It’s a tiny tradeoff for living where we do. People and bears belong to different worlds. We love the wild. Let’s keep it that way.


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