Black bear runs through Ballard

Updated 11 a.m.: Seattle Police and Department of Fish and Wildlife officers spent most of the early morning hours trying to capture a small bear roaming the neighborhood. As first reported here on My Ballard, police first joined the chase near 15th Ave. and 77th St. just after midnight. The bear ran through yards and down back alleys. It climbed a tree, escaping just before officers arrived.

Wildlife officers were armed with tranquilizer darts and a tracking dog, and they told us to stay in our car as we followed the chase at a safe distance. (If you’re curious if the animal ran by your house, My Ballard reader Silver tracked the police calls in the forum here, which we used to create the map below:)

View Bear sightings in Ballard in a larger map

But the bear was too quick. By 3 a.m., it had disappeared in the area around 11th Ave. and 92nd St., and officers called off the pursuit. But two hours later, a resident spotted the animal at 133rd and Meridian.

An officer on scene early this morning told us they believed this is the same black bear that was spotted yesterday around Discovery Park, and that it probably made the swim over the Ship Canal to Ballard. The bear was last seen in Magnolia at 10:11 p.m., and the first sighting in Ballard was around 11:30 p.m. at 63rd and 24th. (Thanks Silver for helping with the story this morning!)

Update: We updated the map with new sightings provided by police.

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59 thoughts to “Black bear runs through Ballard”

  1. This is very cool. I wish it had come further west toward our house…maybe it could have freaked out the raccoons enough to leave!!

  2. I would be shocked by this news except it actually happens fairly frequent down by Des Moines/Federal Way waterfront areas. Still … wow.

  3. Do we know if he came down the railroad tracks as some suspect?

    The one a few years ago in the u district/ravenna came down the burke gilman trail.

    I believe this is the last Boston Bruins fan running away in shame.

  4. Well tomorrow is garbage day, so at least it will have plenty of access to food.

    I think I came across the fish and wildlife guys on my morning walk with the dog. We are pretty regular and see the usual suspects almost every morning. Today we came across two men with BIG dogs, we’ve never seen them before. I think one was a Belgian/German Sheppard, and the other a Bernise mountain dog. Both were at least 100 pounds. Freaked my little 70 pound lab mix out.

    While I am tickled that bear is lose in our neighborhood, I do hope no one gets hurt.

  5. We actually saw the bear last night and yelled to the police who were on the next block over. The dog we saw run over with them was black and white and looked like a large Border Collie. It also had a large bell around its neck.

  6. A border collie with a bell makes a great deal of sense. I'm sure this bear is a moving fast, and really hauling tail. A fast dog that’s trained to round it up without engaging it, is probably the way to go.

  7. Edog – smart comments! Now that I think about it, that's exactly what would be needed.

    At some point related to this chase I heard the name of the breed of dog they were using. Something specially bred for the purpose I think. If I find out what it was, I'll post it.

  8. Hopefully this bear will either find it's way back to a more suitable habitat or be brought back there and not harmed in any way. Seems like every time there's an unusual wild animal sighting in a city, the animal ends up getting harmed or killed. I sure hope that does not happen and that no people get harmed either. (Maybe he'll eat some raccoons while he's in town, I hear the raccoon burgers at Dick's are quite yummy…if you're a bear.)

  9. This is the breed I think they were using last night:

    “Karelian Bear Dog

    The Breed
    Karelian bear dog A fearless hunter, the Karelian bear dog is a Finnish breed used to pursue large mammals such as bear and elk. Robust, athletic, and intelligent, it will attack bears and other large game without hesitation. These strong hunting instincts make it generally aggressive with other dogs, particularly those within its own territory. Yet it remains highly devoted to its master and will submit to his or her command. A true working dog, the Karelian bear dog demands outdoor exercise and makes a good companion for an outdoorsperson.

    Work History
    For centuries, Finnish hunters used the Karelian bear dog to hunt bear, elk, moose, deer, and wolf. A lone hunter, the dog tracks its prey silently, barking only when the quarry is captured or treed. The sound of its bark can communicate to its human hunting partner what type of animal the dog has located. The breed originated in the area of northern Europe known as Karelia and the isolation and remoteness of eastern Finland ensured that it remained relatively untouched until the 20th century. World War II took a devastating toll, bringing the breed to near extinction. But a group of dedicated enthusiasts stepped in to reestablish the species, and it is once again among the most popular dogs in Finland.

    Though the Karelian bear dog is primarily a hunting breed its intelligence and brawn suit the dog to competition in obedience, search and rescue, and sled dog trials. Most recently, its work has led the dog into a conservationist role; it is now being trained to condition bears to recognize and avoid human territory in order to mitigate bear-human conflict in high-incidence areas.

    Physical Qualifications

    Height: 19-23 inches
    Weight: 45-50 pounds

    Special Adaptations for Work: In addition to its fearless nature, the Karelian bear dog's senses, particularly its sense of smell, are extremely acute. Its ears are very mobile and react sensitively to sounds. It is also equipped with a set of strong, evenly spaced teeth that meet in a scissors bite.”

    Info from this page:

  10. I'll bet he ends up in Jackson Park Golf Course. It looks like he was headed in that direction, and there is a fair amount of wildlife thats ends up there. Herons, and Coyotes, some seriously aggressive geese, and brazen squirrels.

  11. Too true. Hopefully wildlife officials will find him first.
    Maybe he should head up to the Kort Haus in Greenwood. I'm sure they can do him up a raccoon burger.

  12. I was wondering why I was shocked awake by a bunch of cops and a dog barking right outside my window!

    I thought for sure they were chasing someone. Not a bear.

    I yelled at the officers “what the f*ck is going on!?” They didnt even look at me.

    I was freaked out.

  13. So, they're going to tranquilize the bear and relocate him/her right? They're not going to shoot it down like the one in Wallingford a while back?

  14. 2:47pm – this just heard on the scanner:

    “Nora zero one received. From bear country.”

    (translation: patrol officer 01 from Nora (North) sector says that he has received the dispatcher's message and is responding from the area of the last bear sighting. He's being funny. I love it when they do this. ;-)

  15. Who would have thought I would have to worry about a bear getting our chickens? We live in North Ballard and just saw a raccoon eying them hungrily. That is enough of an issue, which I can deal with.

    A bear though? I don't thinks so! LOL

    Go bear go!

  16. Sounds like they're gonna try.

    From what I've heard, tranquilizing a large animal is by no means an exact science. I doubt it's easy to guess the weight of a wild bear, and he's probably already pretty cranked up on adrenalin, so that comes into play as well. plus, there's the matter of where the dart happens strike the bear – muscle vs. fat. So guessing the dose must be tricky.

    If they were going to shoot the bear, my guess is that they would have done it by now. They've certainly had cops with guns in his immediate vicinity enough times. The problem has been getting one of the wildlife specialists with the tranquilizers guns into his path with a clear shot.

    We're all wishing everybody the best in this adventure. Cops, bystanders, pets, and Mister or Miss Black Bear. ;-)

  17. Ahhhhhh! The bear is in my house in Ballard/Phinney! It's eating the…oh, wait. Never mind. It's my dog. Seriously, though, as long as the poor bear gets safely relocated to a more woodsy environ, this is a very cool story. My dog, who normally snores away the night without moving, was roving about the kitchen (I didn't get up to check on her, I could just hear the jingle of her tags and a back-and-forth scritch-scratching of her claws on the linoleum); I figured she heard a raccoon outside.

    Now, looking at the timing of the police reports, I think she was hearing all the commotion and was just eager and alert to be part of whatever fun might be going on outside.

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