Critter camera catches black bear in Central Oregon

Aug 18, 2016

Bend Bulletin

Critter camera catches black bear in Central Oregon

Bear strikes a pose on Deschutes Land Trust camera

By Hilary Corrigan

A local group is showcasing a photo shoot with a black bear in Central Oregon.

The Deschutes Land Trust set up a slideshow on its website after a bear showed up this season in pictures from a wildlife camera at one of the sites the trust manages. In color and black-and-white shots, the short series shows the bear seemingly posing against a log, walking on it, ducking behind it and staring almost directly at the camera.

“They’re out there all the time. We aren’t lucky enough to see them,” said Sarah Mowry, outreach director for Deschutes Land Trust.

People often see birds, deer, fish and small animals. But it’s nice to glimpse more rarely seen creatures — especially in a way that does not disrupt their lives, Mowry said.

The trust owns or manages about 8,700 acres in Central Oregon, a mix of five preserves and conservation easements the organization maintains and permanently protects. The group has used four cameras at the properties over the past couple of years and has captured images of skunk, mink, bears, cougars and bobcats, among others. Volunteers manage the motion-activated cameras that can be set to trigger based on animals’ size, so that they don’t take mostly squirrel selfies. Mowry noted the trust manages the land so wildlife have habitat.

“To actually see the visual, that the animal is actually using it, is just wonderful,” Mowry said of the land.

The cameras also offer some good reminders about wildlife.

“They need this space, and they also need us to leave them alone,” Mowry said. “Wildlife needs space, and they need distance.”

And for bears in particular, the pictures offer people a reminder to secure garbage and campsite food and to bring any pet food inside. Mowry noted bears have not gotten used to such food sources in this area as they have in other places, so continuing to take precautions can help prevent trouble.

“We have lots of bears; they just aren’t ‘problem bears,’ which is good. We need to keep it like that,” Mowry said.

The area around Bend is habitat for black bears, but they tend to live in higher elevations in the summer. And while sightings sometimes occur, they do not prompt a lot of reports of garbage raids, as occurs in other Western cities that border forests.

“They’re definitely around. They’re very good at avoiding people,” said Andrew Tasler, natural resources team leader for the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District at Deschutes National Forest.

Bears can be more active at night now, partly to avoid the day’s heat and partly to avoid the larger number of people out in the woods. Tasler’s crew that works on owl surveys at night has seen bears several times — interactions in which both parties saw each other and went their separate ways, Tasler said.

“They’re more aware of us than we are of them,” Tasler said. “We tend to be pretty loud and clumsy going through the woods in comparison to the animals that make a living there.”

This time of year especially can increase the chance of people seeing bears, as more folks enjoy outdoor activities like camping and bears enjoy summer berry crops in some of the same areas, said Michelle Dennehy, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

“The key thing is just to not feed them, because they will move on if you don’t feed them,” Dennehy said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,

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