Recent Bear Encounters Prompt Reminder For Residents To Be Bear Aware

Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Carol Singleton, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8962

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding residents across the state to be bear aware. California Black Bear

Over the last few months, several bears have been observed in and near residential areas, including areas where they have not been present for many decades.

While bear activity is common this time of year, wildlife management staff say it is possible that a healthy population and a dry winter may be attracting bears to urban environments earlier than normal. Bears are more commonly found in residential areas toward the end of summer or right before hibernation in the fall months.

“The thriving population, coupled with a dry spring could be playing a role in the uptick of activity. We want to encourage residents who live in areas near bear habitat to be extra diligent securing their trash and bear-proofing their homes,” said CDFW state bear program coordinator, Marc Kenyon. “We want Californians to enjoy bears. However, we don’t want bears to become reliant on food intentionally or otherwise provided by people.”

California has one species of bear– the black bear. With more than 30,000 bears in California, it is not surprising that during the summer months CDFW offices receive many calls about bears rummaging through trash bins, raiding campsites or making their way into residential areas.

CDFW recommends the following tips for businesses, campers and homeowners:

• Purchase and properly use a bear-proof garbage container.
• Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
• Don’t leave trash, groceries, or animal feed in your car.
• Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
• Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
• Don’t leave any scented products outside, even non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
• Keep doors and windows closed and locked.
• Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.

For more information, visit: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/bear.html

Keep Bears Wild and Win Cash in CDFW’s 2013 Youth Film Contest

Contact: Carol Singleton, CDFW Communications Office, (916) 322-8962

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering young filmmakers in the San Gabriel Valley an opportunity to win big cash prizes in its 2013 Bear Aware Youth Film Contest. High school students whose short films are selected for the top three prizes will win $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place. Deadline for submissions is April 24, 2013.

Human carelessness with food and garbage is attracting black bears to populated areas in the San Gabriel Valley. When black bears are lured from their natural habitat by human food and garbage, they put themselves and the public at risk. In order to combat this problem, CDFW is seeking young filmmakers to produce short films (up to three minutes) that explain what can be done to keep black bears in the wild.

CDFW provides students with “Bear Aware” messages and footage of black bears to include in their films. The winning films will be chosen by both a panel of judges and the public, and will be used as part of CDFW’s ongoing “Bear Aware” outreach and education campaign. For all contest rules, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/bearfilmcontest.

The contest is open to high school students (9th-12th grade) who live in the San Gabriel Valley near the 210 freeway. Eligible school districts include but are not limited to Arcadia, Azusa, Bonita, Claremont, Duarte, Glendale, Glendora, La Canada, Monrovia, Pasadena, San Marino and Temple City.

Prizes for the contest were donated by Sierra Club and Bass Pro Shop of Rancho Cucamonga. For more information, please contact CDFW’s Office of Communication, Education and Outreach at (916) 322-8962 or email carol.singleton@wildlife.ca.gov.
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DFG Reminds Public to Stash Food and Trash During “Be Bear Aware” Month

Black Bear with fish

Black Bear

Contact: Carol Singleton, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8962

May is “Be Bear Aware” Month and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds the public to act responsibly when in bear country. Spring is the time of year when California’s black bears emerge from their winter dens in search of lush, green vegetation. As the grasses die in late spring, bears become attracted to bugs, berries, salmon and nearly anything edible or smelly. Their quest for food takes up nearly every waking hour.

With an estimated 30,000 bears in California, it is not surprising that from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the peak of the camping season, DFG is inundated with calls about bears breaking into homes, rummaging through trash bins and raiding campsites. These bears are often labeled “nuisance” bears, but in reality, the bears are just doing what comes naturally to them, foraging for food.

“People are the root of the problem and it’s their behavior that we need to change,” said Marc Kenyon, DFG’s Bear Program Manager. “By taking just a few precautions to secure food and trash, area visitors and residents can save themselves thousands of dollars in property damage, can help protect their families from injury and can save the lives of bears. Bears that become habituated to humans or conditioned to eating our food and trash often have to be killed.”

Tips for Bear-proofing your Campsite:

No one wants to worry about housekeeping when on a camping trip, but DFG warns that keeping a clean campsite is the responsible and safe thing to do when visiting black bear country. Here are a few tips for bear-proofing your campsite:

  • Use bear-proof garbage cans whenever possible or store your garbage in a secure location with your food.
  • Store food (including pet food) and toiletries in bear-proof containers or in an airtight container in the trunk of your vehicle.
  • Clean dishes and store food and garbage immediately after meals.
  • Clean the barbecue grill after each use.
  • Never keep food or toiletries in your tent.

Tips for Bear-proofing your Home, Rental or Timeshare:

Bears have keen noses and can smell an easy meal from miles away. They can easily tear a front door off its hinges if they smell fried chicken left out on the kitchen counter or bacon grease splattered on a stove. To protect your family and property from bear break-ins follow these simple tips:

  • Purchase and properly use a bear-proof garbage container.
  • Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
  • Don’t leave trash, groceries, or animal feed in your car.
  • Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
  • Only provide bird feeders during November through March and make them inaccessible to bears.
  • Don’t leave any scented products outside, even non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked.
  • Consider installing motion-detector alarms, electric fencing or motion-activated sprinklers.
  • Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.
  • Securely block access to potential hibernation sites such as crawl spaces under decks and buildings.

Facts about Black Bears:

  • The only species of bears in California are black bears. However, they do range in color from blonde to black, with cinnamon brown being the most common color.
  • There are an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 black bears in California.
  • Black bears will seek to avoid confrontation with humans. If encountered, always leave them an escape route.
  • Males are much larger than females and can weigh over 500 pounds, although average weight is about 300 pounds.
  • Black bears can sprint up to 35 mph and they are strong swimmers and great tree climbers.
  • A typical wild bear diet consists of berries, plants, nuts, roots, honey, honeycomb, insects, larvae, carrion and small mammals.
  • As winter approaches, bears will forage for food up to 20 hours a day, storing enough fat to sustain them through hibernation. Bears often hibernate in large hollow trees 40 to 60 feet off the ground.
  • Bears that are accustomed to people can become too bold and lose their fear of humans.

For more information including bear-proof containers and where to buy them, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/bear.html.

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DFG Launches Youth Film Contest to Promote Bear Aware Behavior

Black bear cub

Black bear cub

Contact: Carol Singleton, DFG Communications, 916-322-8962

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is seeking talented teen filmmakers for its first-ever “Bear Aware” Youth Film Contest. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top three short films that most effectively educate the public about the importance of keeping black bears wild and preventing them from becoming habituated to humans, with a focus on bears in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“Human carelessness with food and garbage is attracting bears to populated areas and putting them at risk,” said DFG Bear Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon. “People who live in or visit bear habitat have a responsibility to the wildlife whose habitat they are sharing. We hope that by recruiting young, talented filmmakers, we can get the message out about what the public can do to help keep bears in the wild.”

High school students are asked to create 90-second films using specific messaging provided by DFG. The top three films (as selected by DFG) will win $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place. The general public will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite entry online. The People’s Choice Award will receive a $100 gift card donated by REI.

In addition, the first-place winners will have the opportunity to accompany DFG staff on a rehabilitated bear cub release in spring 2012.

DFG will use the videos as part of a “Bear Aware” campaign to educate residents and visitors to the Tahoe area.

Because of the focus on the Tahoe Basin, the contest is open to high school students in DFG’s North Central Region, which includes the following counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba. The deadline for entries is Jan. 31, 2012.

Full contest details, stock bear footage available to the entrants and approved “Bear Aware” messages are provided on the film contest website at www.dfg.ca.gov/BearFilmContest.

For more information, contact DFG’s Office of Communication, Education and Outreach at (916) 322-8962.

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