Fish and Wildlife on the lookout for ‘unnaturally large’ bear

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like people in the Issaquah area to be on the lookout for an “unnaturally large” black bear. Officials are trying to locate the bear as soon as possible for its own safety, and for the sake of those living near Squak and Cougar Mountains.

According to Chase Gunnell with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the male is two to three sizes larger than the average black bear. He tells KIRO 7 that not only is the mammal massive, it’s also elusive.

“This bear is definitely special in his ability to give us the slip,” said Gunnell. “We’ve got about 20,000 bears in Washington, but this is one wily bear and we’ve been trying to capture him for over two years.”

Gunnell says despite baiting culvert traps, setting up motion cameras, and working alongside specialists and biologists they still haven’t tracked down the animal.

“This bear was later reported to be getting into some trouble,” said Gunnell.

The department is preoccupied with this particular bear for two reasons. The first is that it is roaming through neighborhoods and backyards.

“Feeding on garbage, getting into bird feeders, being in places where we prefer the bears weren’t.” said Gunnell. “Given the number of reports that have come in about this individual bear, it presents the potential for conflict.”

The second reason is that a GPS collar is still fastened around its neck. The tracker, which was installed back in 2018, has since lost its signal.

“Those collars are designed to break and fall off after a period of time and this collar has not,” said Gunnell.

Now that the bear has gotten so portly, that could be a real problem.