An unsuspecting farmworker in Paterson saw quite a sight last week in the field.

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Hunter Berg
Hunter Berg

The farm worker saw a bear in plain sight in the wheat while checking the sprinkler system. The worker immediately called for backup safety when he saw the large animal.

22-year-old Hunter Berg was one of about six people who went out into the 125-acre field at about 12:15 pm last Thursday to verify the sighting.

The farm is located off Highway 14 in southern Benton County across the Columbia River from Oregon.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website:

Black bears are common throughout Washington except for the non-forested areas of the Columbia Basin. Black bears live in a diverse array of forested habitats in the state, from coastal rainforests to the dry woodlands of the Cascades’ eastern slopes. In general, black bears are strongly associated with forest cover, but they do occasionally use relatively open country, such as clearcuts and the fringes of other open habitat.

The farm crew watched the bear wander around the wheat for nearly an hour. On occasion, the bear would stand on its hind legs to look at the audience.

What to do, should you encounter a bear...

Stop, remain calm, and assess the situation. If the bear seems unaware of you, move away quietly when it’s not looking in your direction. Continue to observe the animal as you retreat, watching for changes in its behavior.

If a bear walks toward you, identify yourself as a human by standing up, waving your hands above your head, and talking to the bear in a low voice.

Don’t throw anything at the bear, which the bear could interpret as a threat or a challenge.

If you cannot safely move away from the bear or the bear continues toward you, scare it away by clapping your hands, stomping your feet, yelling, and staring the animal in the eyes. If you are in a group, stand shoulder-to-shoulder and raise and wave your arms to appear intimidating. The more it persists the more aggressive your response should be. If you have bear spray, use it.

Do not run from the bear. Bears can run up to 35 mph and running may trigger an attack. Climbing a tree is generally not recommended as an escape from an aggressive black bear, as black bears are adept climbers and may follow you up a tree.

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