Centralia’s Davis Hill has a new neighbor who hasn’t been living by the golden rule, and the longtime residents of Roanoke Street and other nearby roads are getting fed up with the nuisance.
Worse still, the neighbor runs around without clothes on, knocking over trash and vandalizing property. It’s a black bear.
Late last week, the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) set up a live-holding trap to catch the troublesome bear at Joe Kelly’s house on Roanoke Street. The trap is a large cage lined with jelly donuts. At the back of the cage is apple pie stuffed into a plastic jug, which, if pulled, triggers the door shut.
As of Monday morning, the bear had not yet entered the trap, but over the weekend, more reports of the bear acting as a menace to the neighborhood came in.
“I may go eat those jelly donuts myself soon,” Kelly said Monday with a chuckle.
At least four homes in the neighborhood have made reports to WDFW about the problematic bear.
A few weeks ago, Kelly’s daughter Susie Ballton set up cameras at his house as a security measure. On the very first night of reviewing the footage, she saw the black bear right outside the house. Because the bear has no cub, Ballton assumes it’s a male.
Ballton has an ederly dog, a shih tzu named Coco, who needs to be let out occasionally during the night to use the bathroom.
On the cameras, Ballton saw the bear walk just inches away from the door she uses to take the dog outside.
“If I walk out the door when he's walking right by and we come face to face, that could be a situation,” she said.
One morning in the last few weeks, Margie Trentlage, who also lives on Roanoke Street, noticed her bird feeders had been knocked over and broken.
First thinking it was the work of a raccoon, Trentlage and her husband took bets on the identity of the creature and the two stayed up late watching the feeders to settle it.
Sure enough, the black bear arrived and tore through the yard once again, breaking two bird feeders and leaving teeth marks in one. Trentlage banged on her window and screamed at the bear, causing it to run off and escape the fully-fenced yard by hopping over the lowest part of the spiked gate, which is still at least 3 feet high.
“We kept them (the bird feeders) in for a week or two. But then, I said, ‘Oh, I really miss the birds.’ Because we really enjoy them. So we put them up, thinking we hadn’t seen him (the bear) around. Well, he came in and bent the posts,” where the feeders hang, Trentlage said.
Eric Conrad, another resident in the area, had his compost and trash torn up by the creature. While driving through the area on the morning of trash day, Conrad said he saw bins knocked over with garbage spilled out.
The bear came back at least two more times, which Trentlage knows because of leftover scat and other damage to the yard, compost and fence.
Ballton was told by a representative from WDFW that this time of year, bears are coming out of hibernation, hungry and seeking easy snacks. Folks can decrease their chances of attracting bears by storing trash inside, keeping compost piles fenced and not putting out bird feeders. Even hummingbird feeders can attract bears with the smell of sugar.
“As the weather warms, they're going to have food that's more readily available, wild food for them,” Ballton said. “Then, they'll go back to doing their normal foraging in places that aren't so populated.”
According to Becky Elder with WDFW, if the Davis Hill bear is captured, it will be relocated to a “more preferred location,” farther away from densely populated areas.
For more information about living safely near bears, download the fact sheet on WDFW’s living with wildlife: black bears page. The link is https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/00606/wdfw00606.pdf.