Editor's note: On Saturday we linked to a Pasadena Star News article about a chicken-killing bear in Altadena: it appears the bear was actually in La Cañada Flintridge. La Cañada Flintridge Patch Editor Donna Evans filed this report.
When the squawking startled her awake, La Cañada Flintridge resident Wendy Blair expected to see raccoons digging into her chicken coop again.
Instead, she saw a hulking California black bear and a lot of chicken feathers.
"It was horrifying. My children are still frightened,'' she said Monday, three days after a bear wandered onto her property in the 1700 block of Bonita Vista Drive and ate four of her nine chickens. The bear ripped the wire off the coop, snatched the birds and left remnants of their carcasses strewn about her back yard.
Blair's five children, mother and dog were safely asleep in the house during the 2:30 a.m. incident. The shrieking chickens awoke the family and prompted Blair to investigate. And when she saw a large, furry arm, it just didn't register, she said.
Blair called 911, but by the time deputies from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's arrived, the bear had lumbered off. Lt. Angela Shepherd said Monday while authorities responded to Blair's 911 call, they did not see a bear on the property. She added that it is not unusual for bears to wander into yards at the base of the mountain.
Andrew Hughan, public information officer for California Department of Fish and Game said a warden for the department verified a bear was involved, based on tracks in the dirt and the deceased chickens, but it is not the agency's policy to search for the bear, he said. Unless the bear is harming a human, there's nothing Fish and Game can do, he said.
This left Blair feeling helpless - especially when the bear came back.
"I banged my pots and pans and the bear took off, but I keep thinking it'll come back again,'' she said, noting she's not slept very well since the incident.
For now, the remaining hens are secured at nighttime - during the day they roam the sizable back yard - in the plywood and wire coop. Blair considers the hens pets, and said her children play with them. Even her Boxer, Bruiser, runs around with the chickens.
According to Blair, her neighbor, John Peterson, last spotted the bear about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, as he left his home en route to the gym. He took pictures of a large bear on a nearby lawn - a picture she first spotted on another neighbor's Facebook page. So for all that's negative about the situation, she said, one positive is she's gotten to meet more of her neighbors.
Another negative was that Blair's husband was out of town when the bear attack happened. Fortunately, though, her mother, Marilyn Salinas, was visiting from Phoenix, so the two comforted Blair's children, ages 19 months to 12 years.
"I'm glad I was here. But I'm ready to go home,'' Salinas said Monday.