Stay Safe From Ashland Bears Emerging From Hibernation

ASHLAND, Ore. — As spring returns to Ashland, Jackson County’s bears are waking up from their winter hibernation, eager to refuel. They’re hungry, and the Ashland Police Department (APD) is appealing to residents to help keep the bears at a distance.


Bears In Ashland

While bears’ natural habitat can be found in several parts of Oregon, such as Crater Lake, voted the most beautiful national park in the US, and in Lithia Park, they have been spotted in cities in Jackson County, including Ashland, and a hungry bear can be dangerous. While projects are underway to retain and enhance their historic homes, bears do roam the many hills and mountains in Ashland.

See also: Whitebark Pine Genome Project

APD chief, Tighe O’Meara, said there are specific times of the year that bears come into the city and residents are urged to make it less inviting for them to visit the city and stay, especially during these times. He confirmed that bears try to fatten up in the fall before returning to their dens to hibernate for winter, and “Bears right now are coming out of hibernation and they’re hungry.”

Residents are familiar with the sight of bears getting into trash cans regularly. Some residents have a bear-safe lock on their trash can, keeping the bears out of the trash and preventing a mess. Ashland resident, Linds Daggs, encourages residents to do what they can to keep bears away as bears on the prowl can be scary. He says we must respect the wildlife as they were here before us, and find ways to live harmoniously without any danger to humans or bears.


APD Tips To Stay Safe From Bears

  • Don’t feed the bears. Ever. It’s against state law (ORS 496.730) and feeding them intentionally or unintentionally, causes them to associate people with food.
  • Alert ODFW and your neighbors to unusual bear activity
  • Keep trash secure and take it out just before pick-up. Trash and dumpsters must be secured from bears with metal bars over dumpsters, fully enclosed trash storage, or commercially available garbage cans. Or store garbage inside. Wash trash cans thoroughly to reduce smells as this attracts bears and can be viewed as unintentional (illegal) feeding. Contact Recology Ashland at  541-482-1471 for bear-resistant trash cans.
  • Never leave pet food outside. It attracts bears and other wildlife and puts your pets and wildlife at risk.
  • Take bird feeders down when bears are active. Birds have a plentiful supply of naturally available food during all seasons or some species migrate in winter.
  • Clean up fallen fruit under fruit trees.
  • Clean grills after each use and store.
  • Check the yard before letting your pets out at night. Use a flashlight or porch light to check for bears before pets go out.


What To Do If You Encounter A Bear

  • STOP: Don’t ever approach a bear at any time for any reason. If bear cubs are around, leave the area immediately.
  • GIVE THE BEAR/S SPACE: Bears need an escape route.
  • STAY CALM: Don’t run or make any sudden movements. Face the bear, then slowly and calmly back away.
  • DON’T RUN: The bear may chase you.
  • FIGHT BACK:  Get aggressive, shout, and use sticks, rocks, and hands in the unlikely event of a bear attack.
  • REPORT: Non-emergency bear activity in Ashland should be reported to the city’s bear reporting website or ODFW directly at 541-826-8774.

As APD says, “Don’t give the bears a free lunch.”

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