Warning: Bear Sightings Increase in Pine Mountain, Small Domestic Animals Killed

PINE MOUNTAIN (June 20, 2008)—Reports are coming in of black bear sightings in several areas of Pine Mountain. Patrice Stimpson, a PMCPOA security officer who has trained as a humane officer, reports "last night [a resident reported] a bear ripped open an outdoor hutch, stomped on the guinea pig inside, and ate him.  Last week, (the same) bear broke into a chicken coop and ate two pet chickens." These events both took place in the upper Lassen/Matterhorn area according to Stimpson.

Liz Bolden, co-founder of Los Padres Bear Aware (LPBA) said she wants to remind people that "bears that have been rewarded by our food sources will continue to return until the attractant is removed. This includes any small outside animals and their food."

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 generally don’t feed on pets. For this to occur, usually they have been rewarded somehow [first] by pet feed, from what I understand."

Stimpson had additional reports: "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 Tarheels and Texans restaurant in Pine Mountain Village last weekend. 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 very sensitive noses and 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.

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 in hand, using air horns or super soakers)," she said.

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. "Re-instilling in bears their natural fear of humans and human structures is very important," she added.



This is part of the June 20, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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