Bear Sightings Increase Dramatically

  • Tim Roberts and friends were preparing for a barbecue June 23 when they found this bear visiting their Lake of the Woods home?s trash cans.

    Tim Roberts and friends were preparing for a barbecue June 23 when they found this bear visiting their Lake of the Woods home?s trash cans.

PINE MOUNTAIN—A significant increase in reports of black bear sightings from throughout the region are coming in, from Lebec to Lake of the Woods to Pine Mountain.

Patrice Stimpson, a security officer for Pine Mountain Club, reported a bear ripped open an outdoor hutch, stepped on the guinea pig inside and ate him last week. She said, “the same bear broke into a chicken coop and ate two pet chickens,” a week earlier. These events both took place in the upper Lassen/Matterhorn area of Pine Mountain according to Stimpson.

Liz Bolden, co-founder of Los Padres Bear Aware (LPBA) said she consulted with bear experts and reports, “bears generally don’t predate on pets, but if there is a small pet in a cage in an area that is already part of its food seeking ‘paper route,’ the pet can be at risk.”

Stimpson emphasized, “It is not safe to have small animals in cages or pens outdoors. If not because of bobcats or mountain lions this time, because of our normally shy and docile little black bears.” She added that in the forest, all pets need to be kept in an inside shelter such as the house, a garage or shed.

Bolden said, “bears that have been rewarded by our food sources will continue to return until the attractant is removed.”

Stimpson had additional reports from Pine Mountain: “Another resident, on Maplewood, had her heavy redwood patio furniture hurled off her deck by a bear… He was used to grabbing a cat food snack every night, but the lady stopped feeding her cat outdoors because of the bear. This is a bad bear behavior that’s new to this area this year. “

On San Moritz, a bear was seen three times attempting to take bird seed from feeders. When the residents began taking the feeders in at night, they told a neighbor, the bear seemed to anticipate their actions and began coming earlier.

Another bear was seen near Tar Heels and Texans restaurant in Pine Mountain Village this month. Merchants have been advised to obtain bear-proof refuse cans and to be very careful to avoid leaving food and garbage accessible, even near windows inside. Bears have been known to break through doors and windows for a meal.

Earlier this month, two bear cubs were reported wandering on a residential road near Mil Potrero calling for their mother. They were chased off the road by residents and back into the greenbelt near Woodland.

In the greenbelt east of Zermatt a very large black bear was seen on Friday, June 20.

On Monday, June 23, at 7:20 p.m. in Lake of the Woods, Tim Roberts reports he and friends were preparing for a barbecue. He said that when he stepped out of the house he was startled to see a bear near the trash cans outside the garage, “You guys, look out, there’s a bear outside!” he says he yelled to his friends.

Roberts reports his friends went to get a camera while he went to get a shotgun to scare the bear away.

Bolden mused about the challenges that led her to set up the LPBA educational effort about two years ago. Removing the attractants is the first and most important step she emphasized. In addition, “Co-existing is going to take us using non-lethal means of chasing bears from our properties—stamping feet, banging pots and pans, throwing whatever is at hand, using air horns or super soakers,” she said, “One lady on Bernina used a loud leaf blower. An air horn and loud yelling tell everyone that you have a bear. Discharging a gun makes everyone frightened.”

Bolden added: “Throwing things at bears is very effective because we are the only creatures on the planet that can throw things. Golf balls and baseballs or using a slingshot are all very effective. The goal is to re-establish a bear’s fear of humans and our buildings without harming the animal. Aversive conditioning is our best bet for coexisting.”

LPBA is trying to get a bear biologist from Yosemite who does aversive conditioning for the park to come to the Mountain Communities to provide a demonstration in mid-July, Bolden said.

Reported by Patric Hedlund

This is part of the June 27, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.