Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

May 31, 2007

Columbus the Bear

This poor little lost bear swam from one of the islands in Puget Sound to the Des Moines/Federal Way area. Brian is a first responder for his company, Weyerhaeuser, and yesterday was on "bear alert" as the entire Weyco campus was closed down, including all of the public trails and the very popular Rhododendron Garden. Traps were set out last night and he was caught this morning. He's so cute....if he had pointy ears, he'd look like Sagan. Isn't he cute?

Apparently he's been dubbed "Columbus" because of his penchant for exploring. Since Columbus was lost, it's an appropriate name.
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Officials say a bear that was spotted throughout south King County over the last week has been captured.The 205-pound black bear was found in a trap on the Weyerhaeuser campus in Federal Way on Thursday morning. The trails around the campus were closed Wednesday after the bear was spotted earlier in the week.

Wildlife officers believe it is the same bear that swam from Maury Island to Des Moines on May 25. The caretaker at the lighthouse on Maury Island saw it all. He told state biologists the bear was swimming fast -- it took him only one hour to make the two-mile swim. The bear came ashore around Saltwater State Park.

At the same time, the state says a commercial boat radioed the Coast Guard saying they had seen a swimming bear.Soon after the bear arrived in Des Moines, surprised neighbors started calling Fish and Wildlife agents saying "hey there's a bear in my front yard."

"He wandered right up here and he actually looked at me," said Phi Tieskoetter. "And I wondered 'Hey, is this actually a bear or a dog?' And he looked at me and I was like 'Holy cow, it's a bear.' "

Wildlife officials have named the bear "Columbus," since he appears to be quite an explorer. "This is the breeding season," said State Wildlife Biologist Rocky Spencer. "And if it's a male searching for a receptive female, he might go a long way for that. It's hard to say. "The bear caught Thursday was sedated and will likely be transported to a remote area of the Cascade Mountains to be released.


  1. Anonymous9:36 PM


    Yay-a happy ending for "little" Columbus.

  2. Oh,poor little lost thing!Around here some dumbass would just shoot him.I am so glad that people are seeing animals for the amazing spirits that they are.At least is can roam safely (him and his surrounding humans) without harm or harming.

  3. He's cute!

    It rankles me no end when people around here go out and shoot three mountain lions when some dumbass yuppie jogger gets eaten.

  4. Unfortunately, Bryde, another bear was spotted in an Olympia neighborhood yesterday and had been hit by a car...even though it was only limping, they killed it in case it was "unpredictable".

    Mark - I hear ya; I too get infuriated with that. Up here the developments have pushed into the wildlife habits, and then everyone cries and panics when they see a bear or a coug. HELLO!

  5. Let's hope he finds a girlfiend in the mountains.

  6. Yay for the bear - let's hope he has a good life in his new home. And boo-hiss to the morons who don't seem to understand that we all share the same planet and if you stray somewhere you don't belong you might just get eaten!

  7. so what kind of trap did they use to catch him? glad he's ok...

  8. ih what a sweet story

  9. ooops... that should 'oh' which rhymes with 'doh'

  10. Kristy1:58 PM

    When we got back from Memorial Day weekend, we heard on the news about a bear that was hit by a car and killed on I-90. The announcer felt the need to clarify that this was NOT the bear recently spotted on Vashon. My husband and I look at each other in a "No duh," sort of moment. Vashon is an island--of course it wasn't the same bear!

    Had no idea bears could swim. At least from Vashon to Federal Way. Where are they take him now?

  11. Kristy - I heard he's going east into the Cascades. He was so small, only 205 lbs.

    Kris - The trap they showed on the news was a very large metal tube-type thing, corrugated, with an opening at one end that snapped shut when the bear went in to eat all the honey-coated muffins, donuts & other sweets.

  12. ooooooooh, what a cutie, just glad it has a happy ending. of course, brian coulda just brought him home as a companion to the doggies!!


  13. Aw, Columbus is Adorable. Glad he will be set free. Around Tahoe they tend to shoot first and ask questions later. Of course, the reason the bears come around is that humans leave garbage available and the bears associate humans with food. And people are moving into their territory (same as mountain lions) and then wonder why the deer populations soar when the native predators are killed off. Then the extra deer have to be killed so they don't starve. Such a waste! People can be so stupid.