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Bears on JBLM - how to be safe

What to do and not do if you see a bear on base

Senior Airman Divine Cox This young bear was found in the trees near the McChord Field Shoppette before being captured and relocated May 16.

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord is home to many native, wild animals including black bears. In spring, they are looking for food and that can bring them into contact with humans.

The latest bear encounter was an adolescent bear that was found near the McChord Field Shoppette May 16.

It was relocated to Tahuya State Forest in Mason County by Washington State Fish and Wildlife authorities.

If people see black bears on base, they should call the JBLM military police desk at 253-967-3107.

For the good of the animals and human residents, JBLM’s environmental office plans to capture and relocate nuisance bears.

To prevent a dangerous encounter, do not approach the bear, avoid situations that may unknowingly surprise a bear, observe proper sanitation practices and become familiar with bear behavior.

On JBLM keep your dog on a leash when out walking, stick to the trails and travel in a group. Other major tips are:

• Make sure you know where your children are at all times.

• Respect all bears — they can be dangerous. Never approach a bear for any reason. Black bears are not normally aggressive, but they can be very defensive of their young.

• Never feed bears or other wildlife.

• Leave only enough pet food outdoors for your pets to eat at one sitting.

• Store trash in a secure location or bear-safe container.

• Put your trash out for pick-up in the morning, not the previous night.

• Clean your trash container regularly.

• Avoid surprising bears at close range. If possible, make your presence known, particularly where the terrain or vegetation makes it hard to see. Make noise or talk loudly.

• Avoid thick brush and try to walk with the wind at your back so your scent will warn bears of your presence.

Bears can see almost as well as people, but they trust their noses much more than their eyes or ears.

• If possible, travel in groups. Groups are noisier and easier for bears to detect.

• Bears may be active at any time of the day or night, but they tend to be more active at dawn and dusk. Plan accordingly and stay on established trails where possible.

There are several indicators that may alert you that a bear is in the area: diggings, scat and tracks. Identifying these clues may help to prevent an encounter.

• If you see a bear, detour quickly and quietly away, staying upwind when possible.

• Keep a close eye on birdfeeders. If a bear sighting is reported, promptly remove them.

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