Known for their hairy bodies, powerful physiques and endless appetites, wild bears can be scary. But while most guidebooks will tell you to lie down and play dead, Oregon bears are more likely to be distracted by a good dance track. Every year, when spring has sprung, the teddies come out of their caves for BearTown. Buck Jeppson, who is leading the brood this year, set us straight about the true nature of Oregon bears.
WW: What are some characteristics of the Oregon bear?
Buck Jeppson: When the bears get together, we usually have parties, usually in bars. We also do fundraisers, raising money for different charities throughout the year.
How many bears are in Oregon?
The membership is hovering around 500, which makes us one of the largest groups of bears in the country.
What is the natural habitat of an Oregon bear?
You find bears pretty much everywhere. Our home bar is the Eagle, but we're pretty common in Portland because all the body hair keeps us warm when it's rainy and cold.
How many honey pots would you say an Oregon bear goes through, on average?
How much of the winter does an Oregon bear spend in hibernation?
We do spend much of the winter indoors, but we emerge to dance one Friday at the end of each month during the winter. There are other events around the country, too. We particularly enjoy Puerto Vallarta and Palm Springs during the winter.
What has been your community's reaction to the story of Aldo, an Oregon bear cub recently exiled to Wisconsin?
It's too bad they had to send him so far away, and to a place even colder than here. We have plenty of bears who would have been willing to take him in. Officially, you have to be 21 to be a bear, but many of our charities take care of young bears. The money from this year's BearTown is going to the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition, which works to reduce bullying in schools. We try to take care of our cubs.
GO: BearTown 17: Bearpocalypse is at the Jupiter Hotel, 800 E Burnside St., and the Eagle, 835 N Lombard St., beartownweekend.com, on June 7-10. $115-$140.
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