Bear — or bears — still on loose in Camas

Officials suspect there could be more than one in Round Lake area

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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A bear seen roaming near Round Lake at Lacamas Park since September may be smarter than your average one, and it could have company.

In the last week, several people at the Camas park have reported bear sightings at two separate locations at the same time, leading the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to suspect there could be more than one bear in the city.

"There's the possibility that there are two bears," said Craig Bartlett, a spokesman for the department.

There have been no reports of two bears being at the same place at the same time, he added.

The last reported bear sighting was on Tuesday, when three people saw a bear heading east toward the skate park. The same day, the Camas Police Department received reports of a bear near the Washougal River Greenway.

Capture attempts fail

Those sightings come on top of the ones reported within the heavily wooded, 311-acre park, where the bears are suspected to be on the hunt for extra food to prepare for winter hibernation.

Attempts to capture the bear or bears have been unsuccessful, despite Fish & Wildlife placing donut-baited traps in the park for the past six days. It's uncommon for bears to go so long without being captured after they come into city limits, Bartlett said, so Fish & Wildlife will continue to step up trapping efforts.

"So far, we haven't been able to lure them into the traps," Bartlett said. "We're hoping our food source will attract them eventually."

The park has remained open, and there are no plans to close it.

Although the bears likely pose no threat to humans, authorities say people should nonetheless stay away if they see bears nearby.

"There's no reason for alarm," said Sgt. Scot Boyles, a spokesman for the Camas Police Department. "We have no indication the bears are dangerous in any shape or form."

Still, the Camas School District took precautions earlier in the month. The school district suspended activities at Round Lake, including cross-country practices, when the bears were first sighted.

Cross-country ended Monday for middle school, and no other events are scheduled for the high school.


Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; tyler.graf@columbian.com.