With 2,500 acres of parks and open space, Bellevue is home to wildlife such as deer, coyotes, cougars and black bears. Residents can take steps to avoid conflicts with these neighbors.
Wildlife officials say encounters between wildlife and people are fairly uncommon, but they are increasing in populated areas adjacent to greenbelts and other natural areas that serve as habitat. With warm weather approaching and people heading outdoors more often, reports of encounters between people and wildlife are expected to increase.
Bellevue's Parks & Community Services Department works with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife to help manage the city's wildlife habitat, but residents should heed the following tips to minimize the potential for human-wildlife conflicts:
- Don't feed wildlife.
- Keep pet food indoors and away from pet doors.
- Keep garbage cans secure and barbecue areas clean.
- Keep dogs on a leash.
- Keep pets indoors, especially at night.
- Stay away from den and nest sites.
- Enjoy wildlife from a reasonable distance.
Wildlife officials say to avoid attracting coyotes, black bears, cougars, raccoons and a variety of other wildlife to a neighborhood, remove all possible food sources from around residences. Garbage cans should be secure and placed in an inaccessible area, pet food should not be left outdoors, and fruit that has fallen from a tree should not be left on the ground.
People should refrain from feeding wildlife. Also, small children should never be left unattended in areas where wildlife are frequently seen or heard. People also should always assume a wild animal is dangerous, and should never approach one. Young wildlife that appear to have been abandoned by their mother should never be picked up or otherwise touched.
If a coyote or cougar approaches, wildlife officials advise immediately picking up small children and pets, and acting aggressively toward the animal by waving your arms, throwing stones and yelling. Do not run. The idea is to convince the coyote or cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger. If a bear approaches, move away quietly and avoid direct eye contact.
The wildlife in our area play an important role in the ecosystem and quality of life in this "city in a park."
For more information, contact Laura Hughes, Park Ranger at 425-452-7225; the state Department of Fish & Wildlife at 425-775-1311; or see Living with Wildlife.
In case of a wildlife problem or emergency, state Wildlife officers can be reached through the department's Mill Creek regional office at 425-775-1311 during the week. On weekends and evenings, you can reach an officer by calling the nearest State Patrol office.
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