Barkley Bear is apparently headed for Canada, and he has a new favorite food – raspberries.
Sightings of the birdseed-loving black bear diminished over last weekend, and calls to 911 show that the bold bruin is headed north through rural Whatcom County, stopping along the way to forage on fruit and berries, according to residents who’ve seen the wayward critter.
He was just heading into the woods. There’s a couple cherry trees and and some blackberries.
Derek Morrow, who saw the bear near Hannegan and Kline roads
“He’s going north toward Canada – maybe that’s wishful thinking, but that’s my hope and guess,” said Dave Jones, the state Department of Fish and Game warden who has played cat and mouse with the bear for the month of June. He said it’s the longest he’s ever tracked a bear, and this one definitely proved smarter than average.
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Jones set traps, and the bear either went inside but didn’t take the bait, or he tripped the cage door from the outside. Twice, Jones saw the bear but failed to get off a shot – once with a “bean bag” round from a shotgun, and once with a tranquilizer dart gun.
It frustrated Jones, as the bear turned up his nose at fresh bacon in the trap in favor of sunflower, millet and thistle in backyard feeders.
He said his last sightings in heavily populated Bellingham were last week. All told, the bear generated nearly 100 calls, he aid.
I think he’s less of a problem now.
Dave Jones, state Fish and Game warden
By Friday, 911 calls show the bear moving north through rural Whatcom County, past Kline, Kelly, Laurel and Hemmi roads, Jones said.
Derek Morrow saw the bear Friday near his house at Hannegan and Kline roads.
“He was just heading into the woods. There’s a couple cherry trees and and some blackberries,” Morrow said. “He probably was just looking for food.”
Posts on social media, including Facebook and Nextdoor, put the bear in Everson on Sunday and Monday, not far from where raspberries are ripening in the fields. Wild salmonberries are ripening, too.
“I think he’s less of a problem now,” Jones said. “He’s never hurt anybody or did anything wrong. He’s never done anything except tear down a few bird feeders.”
That, and delight residents of northeast Bellingham as he ambled along and peered into the windows of homes in neighborhoods from Roosevelt to Alabama Hill, Barkley and Silver Beach.
Jones and other bear local experts think the youngster is about 2 years old, and most likely was booted away from its mother as the sow readied to mate this spring after a second winter with her cub. The “teenager” might have been unwilling to head back toward Squalicum Mountain, where he was first seen around Toad Lake, because he feared full-grown male bears, called boars, are also looking to mate.
Some residents in the Northridge subdivison called him “Walter” on social media, but others have used the nickname Barkley, a neighborhood that he frequented for a while.
Jones said he’s removed all but one trap near Bellingham – just in case the pesky little guy doubles back south.
Now, he turns his attention to another bear, one that’s rambling around the Custer area.