Bear Feeding Case Will Go To Court In A First For Washington
By Tom Banse
A 70-year-old woman has been criminally charged for allegedly feeding bears at her house on Washington's Long Beach peninsula. This is believed to be the first time someone has been prosecuted under a relatively new law against feeding large wild carnivores. The accused woman denies the charges.
Ilwaco, Washington retiree Doris Parks says she's unafraid of the black bears that routinely visit her house, not even when they tromp right across her balcony like they own the place.
Doris Parks: "They're gentle giants. They're wussies."
State wildlife officers investigated the Swiss immigrant after getting complaints she was attracting bears who behaved aggressively. Park puts out food for animals, but denies intentionally feeding the bears.
Doris Parks: "I feed stray cats. I feed the crows. I have four seagulls."
Tom B: Are the bears getting any leftovers?
Doris Parks: "No."
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police maintains the state can prove otherwise. "She's had enough warnings that she's attracting animals, whether her intent is to feed cats or whatnot, she's still on the hook," says deputy chief Mike Cenci.
All this has ended badly for the bears involved. Since last fall, wildlife agents have removed seven black bears from the neighborhood and euthanized five of them. From Doris Parks' viewpoint, the state "murdered" the bears. Parks will be arraigned on May 28th on two misdemeanor counts.
Washington Legislature - 2012 law banning intentional feeding of large carnivores: