Washington state Fish and Wildlife game warden Dave Jones said he hasn’t gotten any complaints about this summer’s furry local folk hero “in at least a week,” and if Barkley Bear knows what’s good for him, he should continue to stay off the radar.
“As far as the bear goes, I’m not getting any calls – zero,” Jones said in a phone message over the weekend. “I’m getting zero complaints, and part of that is because the bear is staying down off of North Shore (Drive). As long as it stays east of Britton (Road), I’m in pretty good shape.”
Jones said he’s unlikely to get any complaints about the juvenile black bear if it stays east of Britton because “people there are pretty accustomed to bears on that side of the road.”
Jones advises anyone who sees a bear not to approach it, but to call 911, where they’ll be transferred to a Washington State Patrol dispatcher who will alert Fish and Wildlife.
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Barkley hasn’t been the average bear, though, as the bird seed-loving fiend has developed cult hero-like status, delighting and thrilling residents in northeast Bellingham with his acrobatic and crafty tricks to retrieve his favorite snack and his slippery ability to avoid authorities.
Last week, he even decided to cool off in the backyard swimming pool of Christine Palmerton, who caught the bear paddle on video.
“The one video that somebody sent me with the bear swimming in the pool, I did see that with my own two eyes,” Jones said. “That’s pretty crazy.”
But if Jones could offer Barkley one piece of advice it would be that it’s time to step out of the limelight and end the show – Tuesday (Aug. 1) marks the start of the fall bear hunting season in the North Cascades region of the state (Game Management Units 418-450 and 460). The season runs through Nov. 15.
“If that guy wanders around the wrong house or into the wrong area up there on Squalicum (Mountain), it might be his last trip up there,” Jones said.