Bear encounters could cost you
July 11, 2012
Securing garbage cans to keep the bears out is no longer a request — it’s the law.
Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill that went into effect June 1, allowing state Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers to fine you $87 for feeding or attempt to feed large wild carnivores, or for negligently attracting large wild carnivores by not securing your garbage.
Chris Moszeter, a fish and wildlife officer who handles enforcement in the North Bend and Snoqualmie area, said more than likely people will first be issued a written warning if they are in violation. They then have two days to correct the problem.
Beware: People with birdfeeders in their yards during the summer months could qualify as someone “feeding or attempting to feed large wild carnivores.” Homeowners who take their garbage out to the curb the night before pick up might fall into the “negligent” category.
If after two days the situation hasn’t been remedied, expect the $87 fine. If the problem continues, Moszeter said scofflaws could be charged with a misdemeanor. And next year, he said, the fine will go up “significantly.”
Snoqualmie Ridge is a problematic area for animal control officers because residents there are just not bear smart, according to Moszeter.
Thinking your garbage is safe from hungry bears because it’s in your fenced backyard has proven to be a false notion, as one Snoqualmie resident learned when she looked out her sliding glass door one evening and saw a sow and two cubs thrashing her trash.
In an attempt to remedy false notions or general lack of knowledge for those living in bear country, a community meeting has been set for 7 p.m. July 17 at the Snoqualmie Fire Department.
Snoqualmie police, fish and wildlife officers and Waste Management employees will address the community about how to eliminate some human-caused bear conflicts, and explain the new law.
We love living in bear and cougar country. But with it comes additional responsibilities — and now a possible fine.