Problem wildlife encounters in Washington State

In Washington, bear and cougar are the source of most potentially dangerous conflicts.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has an overview of the problem as well as a series of fact sheets.

[Click here for the original article] Some wildlife species are potentially dangerous or can cause problems, especially as Washington’s human population continues to expand into traditional habitat. The conflicts that occur with black bears, cougars, coyotes, and moose, in both residential and recreational situations, are the ones most often reported to WDFW with concerns for human safety, pets, livestock, or property damage.

With an estimated population of 25,000 statewide, black bears are the most common source of potentially dangerous conflicts. Black bear complaints to WDFW annually averaged 417 statewide from 2003 through 2009, with a high of 493 in 2007 and a low of 292 in 2009. They range from fleeting glimpses of bears to close encounters. Almost all involve bears getting into some kind of food source, from deliberate feeding by humans to unintentional access to garbage, bird feeders, or other attractants.

With an estimated population of 2,000 cougars statewide, confirmed cougar problems are the second most reported. Cougar complaints annually averaged 293 statewide, with a high of 382 in 2005 and a low of 198 in 2009. They range from harmless sightings to attacks on livestock or pets.

At least 50,000 coyotes are estimated to roam Washington, but complaints aren’t tracked the same because most problems are in rural areas and handled by U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services . However, urban coyote problems are growing, with the first recorded attack on humans in Washington in 2006 in Bellevue (King County) where coyotes had been deliberately fed.

At least 1,000 moose are estimated to live in Washington, almost all in the northeast. By their sheer size and boldly wandering nature, moose can inadvertently cause problems.

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