What to Do if You See a Bear

It's hot and bears want to cool off too, so if you live in the foothills, there's a chance one may make a splash in your backyard pool. Officials from the California Department of Fish and Game offer the following tips.

Black Bears have roamed the San Gabriel Mountains since 1933, back when a group of 11 bears, dubbed troublemakers, were banished to the Angeles National Forest from Yosemite National Park, according to a press release from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

People moved in and the bears delved deeper into the forest - but they do trundle down the mountain when they're hungry and hot and that means foothill residents will encoutner them. On Saturday,  and this past spring, made several apperances before the California Department of Fish and Game sedated him and returned him to the forest.

In fact, encounters with black bears have been numerous during the past 15 years. Foothill neighborhoods are especially apt to have bear visitors during summer and fall months, particularly when it is dry and hot. Eating from fruit trees and drinking from and swimming in pools, spas and ponds are activities which will most likely increase if the bear populations continue to increase.

Bear Facts, Courtesy DFG: 

• It is always wise to give a bear as much room as you possibly can. If you see a bear in a residential community, leave the area and call 9-1-1. 

• Bears don't want to play, they just want humans to go away. 

• Gatherings of people watching the bears, smelling like humans and making noises scare the bears. Once scared, they just want to go home to the forest. You can help them by going home too. 

• Bears are wild animals and unpredictable. 

• Mama bears are especially protective of their cubs. 

 Stash Your Food and Trash

Bears and other animals are attracted to anything edible or smelly. So, store garbage in bear-proof containers, or store garbage in your garage until pick-up. 

• Keep food indoors or in airtight and odor-free containers. 

• Put away picnic leftovers; clean BBQ grills. 

• Keep pet food inside, and bird feeders away. 

• Pick up fallen tree fruit as soon as possible, or protect fruit trees with electric fencing. 

When You're Camping, You're on Their Turf

• Keep a close watch on children, and teach them what to do if they encounter a bear. 

• While hiking, make noise to avoid a surprise encounter with a bear. 

• Never keep food in your tent. 

• Store food and toiletries in bear-proof containers or in an airtight container in the trunk of your vehicle. 

• Keep a clean camp by cleaning up and storing food and garbage immediately after meals.

• Use bear-proof garbage cans whenever possible or store your garbage in a secure location with your food. 

• Never approach a bear or pick up a bear cub. 

• If you encounter a bear, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to appear as large as possible. 

• If a bear attacks a person, immediately call 911. 

• When wild animals are allowed to feed on human food and garbage, they lose their natural ways – often resulting in death for the animal. 

For more inormation about how to interact - or not - with wild life, you may 
subscribe to DFG News via e-mail or RSS feed. Go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news

Patch Asks: Have you seen a black beer while living in the San Gabriel Valley?

Natalie July 11, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Dan, it's a myth to say they were introduced from Yosemite in 1933. According to Lori Paul, there have always been black bears in the San Gabriels, though it's possible that their numbers were supplemented with extra bears from Yosemite. Hunting, after all, exterminated the local grizzlies and must have also greatly reduced the black bear population. No fun for the hunters when they've killed all their prey, so bring in some new ones. If you're living close to the mountains and are afraid of bears taking a dip in your pool, get a paint gun. The bears don't like being shot at with them, but they do no harm. Calling 911 and getting sheriffs, Fish and Game, and news 'copters buzzing around only frightens the animals and delays their return to the forest. Some long-time residents of Monrovia who appreciate wildlife get dogs that are big enough to chase the bears out of their gardens. Are they dangerous? My only experience of meeting a bear was on a remote section of the Gabrielino trail. I walk quietly, so I saw him first - he was busy munching on a fruit tree very close to me. The poor thing had a terrible fright when he saw me, and ran away at top speed. Not an aggressive animal at all.
Jillian Monroe July 11, 2012 at 03:31 PM
"Not an aggressive animal at all." While that may be your experience, if you do some research you'll find more than 50 people have been killed by black bears. So have many pets, including ponies. There is additional risk to people when a person is near a mother and cubs. So, you are making a blanket statement that is false and could cause harm to a person. While bears may be shy creatures as a general rule, your blanket statement is irresponsible. As for shooting them with a paint gun, you're likely to be arrested for animal cruelty if caught.
Dan Abendschein July 11, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Interesting Natalie... that info comes from the Sheriff's Department, and I hope they talked to someone who knows what they were talking about. We do have some readers who are interested in wildlife so perhaps this would be a good thing for me to follow up on and see what other local experts have to say about it.
Natalie July 11, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Were any of these people killed by black bears in the San Gabriels? I'm not encouraging people to approach them, and I'd always stay away from a mother with cubs, but they don't want to attack unless threatened. As for using paint guns, it's a recommendation by wildlife experts.
Lori Paul July 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Paint ball guns are NOT cruel to bears. These are the same paint ball guns teens use to shoot one another. The paint bombs DO startle & sting the bear on impact, marking it with bright, non-toxic (but terrible-tasting) paint. Marking a habituated bear also helps ID that individual if it returns to the neighborhood & prevents misidentifying another bear as a "repeat offender" for raiding trash cans, etc. Deterring bears that become habituated to human food sources will ultimately save bears & keep people safe. Conflict with bears occurs when residents in "bear country" provide, however inadvertently, sources of food. If a bear is successful at finding food 1 in 10 times it visits a neighborhood; If just one resident forgets & leaves out yummy food trash or a bowl of pet food just one time...that bear will be back. Bears are all about their stomachs & have good memories! So, to keep bears and people safe, eliminate ALL unnatural food sources and scare away any bear that comes into proximity with people. Don't confront the bear, of course. Use paint ball guns, air horns, banging pans (though some bears have figured out that noise is harmless) or make any noise from safe distance that'll frighten a bear away. Never set dogs on a bear! They *may* tree the bear or drive it off; however, a bear, in self defense, can kill dogs with one swipe of its heavily clawed paw. Bears are shy, but they're also large & potentially dangerous, especially when cornered. Use common sense.


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