ORCAS, Wash. — It's not uncommon for residents in the Cascade foothills to find signs of bears around their yards right now, but it's far less common for residents of the San Juan Islands.
"We looked out the window and there he was, helping himself to birdseed out of the feeder," Janice Williams said. "He did not seem like an aggressive bear. He just looked cuddly."
Williams and her husband took video of a bear that made quite a journey to get to their Orcas Island backyard.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports one of the first sightings in early April on the east side of Camano Island. The bear walked west and swam across Saratoga Passage, landing on Whidbey Island. Then he walked west where he was spotted at Fort Casey State Park, then turned north and was seen in the Penn Cove area.
He continued walking until he reached water again, at which point he swam Skagit Bay and landed on Fidalgo Island.
From there his journey didn't end. He walked toward Anacortes where he hit the water again and swam to Guemes Island. From there his journey is a bit unknown, but wildlife officials believe he island hopped until he turned up on Orcas Island at Olga, which is where he crossed paths with the Williams family.
“He’s moving and grooving!” said WDFW Officer Ralph Downs.
Male bears are on the move right now, looking for mates.
"They are definitely looking for love in all the wrong places because there are no girl bears here," Williams said.
No girl bears or any bears for that matter.
The only other bear spotted recently on Orcas Island was two years ago and it made daily appearances in the exact same spot where Williams and her husband let the state trap the bear and relocate it to another area.
This bear is moving too quickly for wildlife officials to catch up with him.
"While we were watching him, he stopped what he was doing, he stopped eating, and he turned and looked at us. He could see that we were looking at him. We opened the window to say hello, he ran back about 15 feet but turned around and looked at us and then sort of slowly loped along our driveway and hung a right into the forest," Williams said.
After the bear left, he was spotted 20 miles away after just a couple hours.
State wildlife officials believe he's probably made another swim and may even be in Canada by now.
“He’s not really causing any issues except for stealing a little bird food,” Officer Downs said. “He’s not standing still long enough for us to do anything.”
After two bear visitors, Williams said, it may mean she has the best bird feed on the island, or maybe it's something else.
"I just like to think that they like me," she laughed.