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Ilwaco Retiree Could Be First Charged Under New Law Banning Feeding Of Bears

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Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are recommending that an Ilwaco woman face charges for allegedly feeding wild bears.

Wildlife agents have removed seven problematic black bears from the woman’s neighborhood and had to euthanize five of them since last fall.

The 70-year-old retiree could be the first person charged under a new law that bans the feeding of large wild carnivores. The Washington Legislature made that a misdemeanor in 2012.

State Fish and Wildlife Deputy Police Chief Mike Cenci says the high concentration of habituated bears around Doris Parks' house was one example used to persuade legislators.

"If people are willing to take away attractants, if they're willing to change their behavior, we're going to work with those folks," said Cenci. "But if after being educated, you continue to obstinately cause a public safety hazard, then we're going to have to ratchet up the way we do business unfortunately."

The Pacific County, Washington prosecutor has not announced whether he will press charges based on the referral from the wildlife agents. In an interview with her local newspaper, Doris Parks said she leaves pet food out for feral cats, and isn't intentionally feeding the neighborhood bears.

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.