Washington town on edge over 'problem bears'

Washington town on edge over 'problem bears' »Play Video

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. -- A recent spike in bear activity prompted the city of Snoqualmie, Washington, to hold a special meeting to address concerns and find solutions to what could become a dangerous problem.

Problem bears have been showing up in backyards and strip malls, and police say it's unsecured garbage, thrown out leftovers and birdseed that's drawing the bears in.

"It's not like we have garbage in the alleyways, overflowing in the streets. It's what we do with the storage of our garbage before the garbage man gets there," said Snoqualmie Police Capt. Nick Almquist.

Almquist said the city's population explosion is also contributing to the problem as more and more people move into areas that used to belong to the bears.

Resident Rebecca Russell was shocked to discover how bold the bears have become.

"The bear had ripped open the boards into the garage, got into the garage and got into the trash again," she said.

On Tuesday night, worried residents met with city leaders to discuss the bears. Wildlife officers reminded those in attendance that thanks to a new state law, it's now illegal to feed some types of wildlife.

If someone repeatedly feeds the bears -- even unintentionally -- they may be fined. Those tickets start at $87, according to wildlife officers.

Meanwhile, city officials told residents they will soon be able to rent bear-proof garbage cans.