Officials Will Instruct Pasadenans on How to Deal with Those Bears in the Backyard

Published : Thursday, June 13, 2019 | 4:42 AM

In a 2016 Pasadena incident, three bears roamed a Kinneloa Mesa neighborhood, swimming in a pool and exploring dumpsters searching for food. With no Fish & Game wardens available, Sheriff's deputies monitored the bears' movements until they disappeared back into the foothills. Photos: Staff photographer Brandon Villalovos

It’s that time of year again, and if you live in bear country, which is much of North Pasadena, you might want to attend a “Living With Bears” presentation Thursday to learn how to cope with the larger of our roaming local wildlife.

Kim Bosell, regional park superintendent for L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation and Amelia Viera, environmental scientist for California Fish and Wildlife are the featured speakers at the event that is designed to help possible meetings between people and bears go smoothly for all involved.

As warmer weather has finally arrived it’s time to be careful. Bears are foraging for food, according to both of the speakers at today’s event.

“The best thing that we want to do with people is to make them aware of why the bears are coming into neighborhoods and coming into urban areas,” said Viera. “And that’s because they are finding the easily accessible attractants in people’s properties. So that’s trash and fruit and any other sort of other food resource. That could be bird feeders as well. Anything that smells really good to the bear.”

Bears come into local neighborhoods is search of trash and fruit and any other sort of other food resource, even bird feeders.

“So what we want to do is we want to educate people and make them understand that if we are smarter about the way we live in bear territory, we can help keep them away, keep the public safe and keep those bears safe because that’s the ultimate, that’s the ultimate goal.”

Viera said people should be especially wary of a mother bear protecting her cubs.

“Sometimes what happens if a mother bear is with her cubs, she is going to want to protect her offspring,” Viera said. “And so that’s why we see an uptick in a more defensive behavior from bears. But in general, black bears are really mellow animals. They tend to just be indifferent to humans. They don’t want anything to do with us aside from all the food that we provide for them, unfortunately. But black bears, they are tame for the most part.”

Bosell said there are actions to take to avoid endangering the bear and yourself.

“People don’t interact with [bears] they just kind of turn and run. And so that’s giving the bears a little bit of education that it’s okay for them to go into these neighborhoods that they won’t be bothered,” Bosell said. “You want to be as loud as possible. Make noises, make it uncomfortable for the bear to be there. But of course, from a safe distance.”

On Monday, a Sierra Madre man and his dog had a daytime run-in with a bear, resulting in minor injuries and the bear being darted and relocated. Sierra Madre police said the run-in happened after a small dog went after a bear cub in the man’s back yard. The homeowner saw the mother bear coming after his dog and tried to protect the animal.

“For bears down here, barking dogs are an annoyance, and the only time a bear usually goes after dogs if the dog runs up at the bear and the bear is going to swipe to try and protect themselves. You want to make sure that if you’re with your dog, make him bark, but don’t let him approach the bear.”

Bosell said the local bears are not malicious.

“They’re down here for food and water,” she said. “They may be looking for shelter under houses, under patios, things like that. They’re pretty much non-confrontational animals. They just want to come get their food and go on their way.”

“Typically what you’re going to see is a bear that’s afraid, he’ll climb up the nearest tree and stay there until the scary people on the ground go away,” Bosell said. “That’s where they go for safety. So a bear up a tree is a normal behavior and they’re just waiting for you to leave them alone so they can go on their way.”

“The only time that there’s an issue with human-bear encounters is usually when the two startle each other, like you come around a corner and you’re face to face with each other.”

“You should always make sure you take your dog out on a leash first, make sure that there’s nothing in your yard and then allow the dog to be off leash in the yard,” she said.

After the warmer spring and summer months, the threat of bears breaking into your backyard still lingers through the fall in preparation for hibernation.

“You can typically see a bear all year round and the time of year right now, it’s mating season, so the bears are down looking for mates or you know, they’re traveling around. Then in the fall they start building up their weight in order to hibernate. And that time of year is usually when we see the most bear encounters because the bears are down, feeding as much as possible to get that weight on for that hibernation period.”

“It’s really taking our habitat back,” Bosell said. “We’ve, we’ve pretty much given the habitat to the bears by being very non-confrontational. Like we take pictures and we’d go inside and shut the door and the bears are like, ‘Oh, thanks, so I can have this yard.’

“So it’s really trying to educate people to take back their habitat or be the dominant figure in their habitat.”

You can learn much more and ask questions at the presentation Thursday night at the Eaton Nature Center from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., 1750 Altadena Drive, For more information call (626) 398-5420.

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