Many of us have seen them in our neighborhoods: some of Washington’s most charismatic carnivores (black bears, coyotes, bobcats and cougars) call the Issaquah Highlands home! Issaquah and its neighboring communities of east King County lie at the intersection of expanding urban settlement and iconic wilderness that is home to an abundance of wildlife.
Where urbanization and wilderness intersect, there is sometimes human-animal conﬂict. For some residents, carnivore sightings may especially cause concern. It can be a little scary to have a bear get into the trash or to have a coyote harassing a pet. These sightings are a reminder that even though we live in a developed area, wild animals still call this place home.
The presence of carnivores is a sign that green spaces around us remain healthy, vibrant ecosystems. This means carnivore sightings are likely to continue, especially as development continues where natural areas and humans meet. How can we successfully coexist with our furry neighbors?
The Woodland Park Zoo and the City of Issaquah facilitate a community engagement program called Coexisting with Carnivores which provides opportunities for engagement, dialogue, and collaborative problem solving to make coexistence with our carnivore neighbors easier. The program establishes Carnivore Coexistence Action Teams (CCATs) which consist of Issaquah community members who want to foster peaceful coexistence with carnivores in their neighborhoods and use collaborative problem solving to teach their friends and neighbors how to prevent conﬂicts with carnivores.
The Coexisting with Carnivores program holds community events throughout the year and we encourage you to participate and learn more about our wild neighbors. You can also participate by recording carnivore sightings in the Issaquah area by visiting the Woodland Park Zoo’s website, carnivorespotter.org.
Do you live in Issaquah and are interested in getting involved? Contact the project directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Coexisting with Carnivores, visit zoo.org/coexisting.
Joanne Dority is a resident of West Highlands Park.