Reader report: Bear sighting in West Seattle?

Could a bear somehow have made its way into a West Seattle greenbelt? Nancy says she and her friend are sure that’s what they saw today:

My friend and I went for a walk behind the houses on Snoqualmie and Beach Drive [map] today around 1 PM. At the crest of the walk, in the clearing, we both very clearly spotted a brown bear. It looked rather rangy. When it saw us, it headed our way and we ran down the path to a home near the greenbelt. We called police.

Anyone else?

Bears were part of the West Seattle ecosystem a century or so ago, stories show. But no bear sightings have emerged in West Seattle in the eight years we’ve been doing news here – though, just before that, there was the 2007 saga of a bear swimming from Vashon to Des Moines.

P.S. If it really was a bear, it would almost certainly be a black bear – here’s the state Fish and Wildlife infosheet about that species.

P.P.S. Larry reminds us in comments that a bear turned up in Ballard in 2009.

35 Replies to "Reader report: Bear sighting in West Seattle? "

  • Ray November 14, 2015 (7:51 pm)

    Probably the only people in the city that do not carry a cell phone with them? (just kidding)

    I would bet it was more than likely a large hairy dog that was soaking wet from the rain, but stranger things have happened. If it is a bear, it will be noticed pretty easily when it gets hungry.

  • sc November 14, 2015 (7:56 pm)

    Maybe it’s looking for a place to hibernate!

  • Eric1 November 14, 2015 (8:17 pm)

    Ditto on the dog idea. Seeing an actual brown bear would be very unlikely in Seattle. Cinnamon black bears are pretty unusual as well. A previously unseen wild bear coming towards you and headed in the direction of homes would be quite wrong.
    Stranger things have happened but unless someone has a exotic pet, this was probably a dog.

  • Margaret Ganong November 14, 2015 (8:20 pm)

    Most black bears are actually brown in color.

  • LarryB November 14, 2015 (8:24 pm)

    If there was a bear in Ballard a few years ago, I don’t see why there couldn’t be a bear here.

  • KBear November 14, 2015 (8:25 pm)

    There are Brown Bears throughout Seattle, but none near here.

  • sonic November 14, 2015 (8:41 pm)

    By chance, is this the same person who was sure they saw a person parachuting into the puget sound over the summer, prompting a full-scale search and rescue mission? I think that turned out to be a bunch of helium balloons. Point being, it’s easy for eyes to play tricks on you, no matter how sharp your vision is.

  • Chris S November 14, 2015 (8:53 pm)

    There was also this bear that wandered into the U District in 2006:

    The “rangy” comment makes me wonder if it was a coyote, some of which have been described thus.

  • Nancy November 14, 2015 (8:59 pm)

    A black bear, body blackish but head more brown. Not a dog. We were pretty close. But we did not stick around for long. I know it sounds crazy, but we saw it clearly. Nancy

  • Curtis November 14, 2015 (9:12 pm)

    If it’s not a Brown Bear, then maybe it’s a Pink Elephant?

  • Trileigh November 14, 2015 (9:33 pm)

    OK, now you’ve got me intrigued! Raccoon? Fisher? Mountain beaver? Or actually a bear? Nancy, thank you for this report. Whatever the animal is, I hope it’s protected from harm and moved back to where it can thrive.

  • C November 14, 2015 (9:42 pm)

    In other states bears came down to much lower elevations to find food due to drought. Bears have very different body/movement. If there is a hungry malnourished bear I think we will be hearing more. Pay attention to backyard chicken coops.

  • WEST SIDE ROB November 14, 2015 (10:06 pm)

    Probable escaped from the car wash, an looking to get back to ballard or looking for a new home by the Fauntleroy creek to wipe our salmon run.

  • Eric1 November 14, 2015 (10:34 pm)

    Ok, mostly black increases the odds that it was a bear. Still low but I have seen strange animals in West Seattle that have very low odds.
    I saw a fawn run across Fauntleroy at Lincoln Park probably 15 years back when I drove to work daily. Not super sure it was a deer but not many animals of that shape/color/gait in the world.
    Even more unusual was I once passed an Emu on 35th probably 20 years ago near Mt St Vincent. That made me do a double take: Slowed down and yep, two legged bird about the height of my car. Certanly not a lost backyard chicken.

  • westseattledood November 14, 2015 (10:36 pm)

    The recent warmer winters might have many black bears throwing coats (shedding). Or the rangey thing could be mange, which from a distance can look like shedding fur. One might notice that on coyotes as well.

    There are many more reports this past year in Eastside lower Cascade communities of black bears. The city-wide media has reported them. What with habitat displacement from increased housing development further up on the foothills, reduced food sources from salmon runs which have been destroyed plus warm winters impacting physiological cues for seasonal behaviors, a black bear sneaking through the greenvelts does not seem impossible.

    You contacted official wildlife authorities, I assume? If not, you might do that soon. For the animals sake as well as humans.

    If people do not know, wave and flap your arms as you move away from a black bear on a greenbelt trail. Make loud vocalizations as you retreat. Finally, do not make direct eye contact. That’s hiking 101. :)

  • I. Ponder November 14, 2015 (11:00 pm)

    I came face to face with a River Otter in my yard a few months ago. Had a family of raccoons sleeping outside my window under a full moon. Tonight I was wondering what animal might visit since I left a pan of bacon grease out on the deck to congeal. Just took it in. Would have been amazing to see a bear. I don’t doubt it was a bear.

  • Erin November 14, 2015 (11:17 pm)

    Any chance it was a Newfoundland dog?

  • West Seattle Hipster November 14, 2015 (11:57 pm)

    It was Bigfoot.

  • Kimmy November 15, 2015 (8:20 am)

    I hope it was on a leash!

  • Thomas Johnson November 15, 2015 (8:31 am)

    Anyone who has seen a bear knows that at first, you don’t think it is a bear, and you need to overcome your own disbelief that what you are looking at is a bear. And then, you realize it is, in fact, a bear. It was a bear.

  • Joe Szilagyi November 15, 2015 (9:01 am)

    Don’t forget that a mountain lion made it all the way into Magnolia a couple years ago. We could easily get a bear here.

  • Joe Szilagyi November 15, 2015 (9:04 am)

    Heck, a 200 lb black bear was captured here in Yonkers this year. If a bear can get in spitting distance of the NYC subway, it can get to Beach Drive.

  • Mike November 15, 2015 (9:31 am)

    I second KBear’s comment. Last time I saw a Brown Bear, my wheels were not very clean.

  • h November 15, 2015 (9:34 am)

    Ditto Thomas Johnson. I was once running a wooded trail when I, out of the corner of my eye, saw something big and dark with bright eyes physically pull back when I ran by. I stopped to look and, it did take a minute to process, found myself 10′ from a bear. Fortunately… or realizing later, I was just plain lucky mom didn’t show herself, it was a cub. Still big.

  • Trickycoolj November 15, 2015 (11:23 am)

    So did it take the high bridge or low bridge?

  • Matt S. November 15, 2015 (11:24 am)

    Nice work there, Curtis.

  • Cbof November 15, 2015 (3:02 pm)

    I so hope it was a bear!!!

  • Eric November 15, 2015 (4:15 pm)

    I took my friend’s Newfoundland to the junction one time and this girl was scared as she told her mom, “Look, it’s a bear!!”

  • RayWest November 15, 2015 (5:20 pm)

    Let’s hope it is not a bear. It could end badly otherwise. The bear that had wandered into the Ravenna area a few years ago was killed.

  • AlkiBird November 15, 2015 (6:42 pm)

    Trickycoolj: my thoughts exactly! If a bear, where did it come from and what was its route to beach drive area!? Through the junction?

  • Laugh a little November 15, 2015 (8:35 pm)

    Kimmy you killed me with that comment ! 😂

  • Kay K November 16, 2015 (2:22 pm)

    I remember that a bear was seen years ago near the Hamm Creek watershed to the Duwamish (down and to the south of Meyers Way). That greenbelt runs all the way up north and under the WS Bridge.

  • Paula November 16, 2015 (3:42 pm)

    During the blackberry season this summer, while walking on the trails to the south of the Cooper School, my husband and I noticed scat full of berry seeds in several locations right on the trails. Didn’t look like dog poo. There usually isn’t that amount of dog poo right on the trail, and as far as I know dogs don’t really go for black berries. Looked like bear scat to us. Now that the berry season is over we haven’t noticed any unusual scat on the trail.

  • westseattledood November 17, 2015 (12:55 pm)

    Coyotes eat mainly berries in summer and fall. FYI.

Sorry, comment time is over.