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Agencies share safety tips following dozens of bear sightings in Ashland

A bear is spotted relaxing by a pool about one mile away from downtown Ashland. (Morgan Cottle)

It's that time of year when bears are starting to venture into southern Oregon's communities, and the Ashland Police Department is warning the public to take caution when dealing with the animals.

Ashland residents have shared photos and videos on social media of bears hanging out in neighborhood parks, people's backyards, even their pools. APD said while it's neat to see nature up-close, there are precautions you can take to stay safe.

The biggest piece of advice they shared was just leave the bears alone, and do not feed them under any circumstances.

"Don't feed the bears, please," said Warren Hensman, Deputy Chief of the Ashland Police Department. "Especially if you come across baby bears. You know mom is close by, and she's super protective."

The department has received about 30 calls regarding bear sightings between May 1st and June 12th of this year. They received about 23 calls during that same time period in 2017.

They said this call volume is typical for this time of year. While the majority of calls are focused on the hillsides of Ashland, bears have been spotted towards the downtown area.

"We're seeing it quite a bit on the SOU side of town, and also around Lithia Park," said Hensman. "We did have some cubs and a momma bear around the mouth of Lithia Park a few weeks ago. That caused a bit of a stir and some attention."

There are between 25,000 and 30,000 black bears in Oregon, according to the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife.

They recommend to following tips to help secure your home from bears:

  • Keep all pet food indoors
  • Hang bird feeders from a wire at least 10 feet off the ground and six to 10 feet from the trunk of a tree
  • Keep the area under bird feeders clean
  • Remove fruit that has fallen from trees
  • Add lime to compost piles to reduce odor
  • Put garbage out just before pick-up times, not the night before
  • Don't leave scented soaps, candles or suntan lotions outdoors or near open windows
  • Purchase bear-proof garbage cans if necessary... Add lime to compost piles to remove odor... And use bear-proof garbage cans if necessary.

The Ashland Police Department does ask anyone who spots a bear within the city to contact them. That way, they can monitor the bear from a distance and make sure that everyone stays safe.

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