Young black bear seen in upper Lithia Park

A young black bear was spotted in Lithia Park today, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department said in a news release this afternoon.

At about 1:30 p.m., a person walking on a trail above the parks department offices in Lithia Park saw a young-looking, light-colored black bear, Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson said.

"I received the information second-hand, but I'm speculating it was a yearling bear," said Robertson.

The bear didn't seem overly frightened, but did leave the area, he said.

According to Robertson, it's not uncommon to see bears in Ashland.

"This is the first sighting this year. I don't think we had any last year at all, but it's not unusual. We do live in a forest interface and they were here before we were," Robertson said.

In a news release, the parks department reminded Ashland residents around the parks to secure garbage cans, don't leave pet food outdoors, clean up fallen fruit from fruit trees, remove scented candles, clean barbecues, remove bird feeders and, most importantly, do not feed the bears.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends the following when encountering a bear:

  • Avoid direct eye contact.
  • If the bear stands on its hind legs, it is trying to detect a scent and not necessarily behaving aggressively.
  • Give the bear a way to escape.
  • If there are cubs, steer clear and leave the area.
  • Stay calm and do not run or make any sudden motions, then back away slowly.

The parks department advises people to be observant when walking after dark and consider walking in groups or with a noisemaker like a bell. By law, a bear or other nuisance wildlife cannot be killed unless it demonstrates aggressive behavior toward humans or domesticated animals.

— Mandy Valencia

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