TACOMA, Wash. — State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers who've been scouring the woods near Gig Harbor in search of a bear that attacked a woman on Sunday morning have come up empty.
As of Wednesday, the bear had not fallen for a mixture of bacon grease, sardines, doughnuts, maple syrup and vanilla set in two traps. Nor had two teams of dogs picked up any scent of the bear.
The department’s policy to euthanize any bear that attacks a human has outraged several residents, who point out that the bear was minding its own business when the woman’s dog ran into the brush where the bear was.
“We’ve gotten a lot of bear commentary,” said department spokesman Craig Bartlett. “People have strong feelings about these issues.”
About 40 e-mails have been received by the Fish and Wildlife office — all but a few from people pleading for the elusive bear’s life.
Linda Procter, who lives in the Rosedale area, where the attack occurred, called the euthanasia policy appalling and questioned the practice.
“There are so many bears out here. How do they know they’re going to get the right one?” she asked. “We don’t believe in the agency’s approach.”
She hopes a handwritten letter and an e-mail might sway Wildlife officers.
But Bartlett says that won’t happen — assuming, of course, that the bear is captured.
He has penned a response to the concerned residents outlining the department’s reasoning as to why the bear must die if caught.
Relocation isn’t a good option because bears are territorial and it is difficult to find an area that hasn’t already been claimed, officers said.
Then there is the future risk.
“Our experience is that a bear that attacks a human is more likely to attack again,” Bartlett said.
Plus, he said, it is critical to determine whether the bear has rabies — something the woman attacked needs to know — and the only way to test rabies is by gathering brain tissue during a necropsy.
The search for the bear continued Wednesday with no new developments. Two traps were checked at 4 a.m. and throughout the day but didn’t appear to have been disturbed.
Wildlife Capt. Dan Brinson, who is leading the search, said he will reassess the situation today and determine how much longer to keep trying.
He acknowledged that so much time has passed since the attack that it would be hard to verify that a bear caught in the trap is the bear that attacked the woman.
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