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Bear-Feeding Case — First Of Its Kind In Wash. — To Head To Court

Tom Banse
Accused bear feeder Doris Parks created a nine acre wildlife reserve by buying undeveloped land across the street from her house in Ilwaco, Washington.

A 70-year-old woman has been criminally charged for allegedly feeding bears at her house on Washington's Long Beach peninsula.

This is believed to be the first time someone has been prosecuted under a relatively new law against feeding large wild carnivores.  

Ilwaco retiree Doris Parks says she's unafraid of the black bears that routinely visit her house, not even when they tromp right across her balcony like they own the place.

"They're gentle giants. They're wussies,” she said.

State wildlife officers investigated the Swiss immigrant after receiving complaints she was attracting bears who behaved aggressively. Park puts out food for animals, but denies intentionally feeding the bears.

"I feed stray cats. I feed the crows. I have four seagulls,” she said.

When asked whether the bears were getting leftovers, Parks answered, “No.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials maintain the state can prove otherwise.

"She's had enough warnings that she's attracting animals. Whether her intent is to feed cats or whatnot, she's still on the hook," said deputy chief Mike Cenci. 

All this has ended badly for the bears involved. Since last fall, wildlife agents have removed seven black bears from the neighborhood and euthanized five of them. Parks says the state "murdered" the bears. 

Parks will be arraigned on May 28 on two misdemeanor counts.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.