Tag Archives: bears

Fish and Wildlife Officers File Charges Against Suspected Bear Poachers in Nevada County

Following a five month investigation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers have formally asked the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office to file felony and misdemeanor charges against suspected bear poachers Jason Scott Wilkison, 43, of Grass Valley and Chris Art Nunley, 54, of North San Juan for crimes related to alleged bear poaching in April 2013.

Both men have been charged with the unlawful possession of bear. Additional charges of unlawfully killing a bear were filed against Wilkison. Both individuals also face felony charges involving the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

Lead investigator, Warden Jerry Karnow, launched the investigation when he received reports of a bear that had been unlawfully shot after being lured with bait to a residence located near Grizzly Flats in Nevada County. Wildlife officers, assisted by Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies, served a series of search warrants where bear remains were found in a shallow grave near Wilkison’s residence. Additional bear remains were located at Nunley’s residence.

The CDFW Forensic Laboratory was involved in an analysis of the blood and bear remains, which CDFW believes will support the case. The recovery of firearms, ammunition and evidence throughout the investigation indicate Wilkison and Nunley, who are convicted felons, unlawfully possessed firearms and ammunition.

Media Contact:
Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 651-2084
Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

CDFW to Host Bear Aware Information Meeting in Big Bear

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will host a bear information and awareness meeting for residents of the Big Bear area on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. The meeting is in response to numerous reports of bears getting into trash cans and back yards. The extended drought conditions are a likely cause of bears roaming farther out of the natural habitat in search of food.

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“Bears most often enter residential areas because of attractants such as unsecured garbage, pet food or bird seed,” said CDFW Wildlife Biologist Jeff Villepique. “The department is asking residents and visitors to be vigilant by keeping food and garbage inaccessible to wild animals.”

When bears are allowed to feed on human food or garbage, they become habituated, meaning that they lose their fear of humans. They will then likely return to the area to seek out more easily accessible food. Keeping bear attractants like food and garbage secured helps ensure that a safe distance is kept between people and wildlife.

It’s against the law to leave food or trash where bears or other wild animals can access these attractants. Once a bear becomes habituated to human food sources, it is likely to damage property, threaten public safety and ultimately may have to be destroyed.

“Most encounters between wildlife and people are the result of people problems, not wildlife problems,” said Villepique. “However, it’s often wildlife that pays the price.”

CDFW recommends the following general guidelines when living or visiting bear country;

  • Keep trash inside garages, sheds or other enclosures until the morning of trash pick-up.
  • Save smelly kitchen scraps in a bag in the freezer and put it outside in the trash on pick-up day.
  • Feed pets indoors and don’t store pet food or bird seed on the porch.
  • Keep bird feeders out of reach of bears by hanging them from a line strung between two. trees – clean feeders regularly to protect birds from transmitting diseases like salmonella.
  • Anything with a strong odor can attract an unwelcome visitor, a bear can smell a barbecue from a long way, be sure to scrape the grill and burn off gristle.

The public is invited to a free slide show, “Living with Black Bears,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug.  17 at the Big Bear Valley Senior Center, 42651 Big Bear Blvd. in Big Bear Lake. The talk, by Jeff Villepique of CDFW, will cover bear biology as well as steps to keep bears wild.  It will be followed by a question and answer session.

For more information on living with wildlife, please visit: www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild.html.  To report a bear sighting, call the CDFW Big Bear field station at 584-9012.

Media Contacts:              
Jeff Villepique, CDFW Wildlife Biologist, (760) 937-5966
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

California Black Bear

DFG Reminds People to Leave Bear Cubs Alone

Contacts:    
Marc Kenyon, DFG Statewide Bear Program Coordinator, (916) 445-3515
Kevin Brennan, DFG Environmental Scientist, (760) 749-3270
Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is reminding people who see bear cubs to leave them alone. Even if they appear orphaned, the most appropriate thing to do is to leave them in the wild.

Bear cub exploring the water

Throughout the year, sows teach their young to gather food and eat what is available in their natural habitats. By fall, cubs can survive even if they are completely separated from her.

“Sows normally wean their cubs around the beginning of August,” said DFG Statewide Bear Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon. “Depending on the sow’s parenting ability, these cubs have already learned how to fend for themselves. Plus, bears of this age are extremely resourceful, making their chances of surviving on their own relatively good.”

Approximately 40 percent of bear cubs die in their first year. Those that survive are driven off by their mothers at approximately 18 months of age.

By Aug. 1, California’s black bear cubs are roughly 5 months of age. Research and DFG’s experience over the decades indicates that while orphaned cub survival is lower than that of cubs with sows, cubs this age can survive on their own.

The DFG’s policy regarding orphaned cubs favors leaving them alone unless they are obviously sick or in dire need of assistance. The DFG assesses cubs on a case-by-case basis for diseases, parasites, overall condition and human habituation.

The alternatives to leaving a cub in the wild are limited, and include temporarily holding a cub in a captive facility until winter sets in, placing it in a long-term captive facility such as a zoo, or euthanasia. Reducing wildlife to captivity is inconsistent with the DFG’s goal to keeping wildlife in the wild, where they can behave naturally.

With approximately 30,000 black bears in the state, encounters between people and bears are becoming more commonplace. In order to keep bears in the wild, where they belong, it is important that residents and visitors in black bear habitat stash their food and trash properly. Feeding wildlife is harmful to wild animals and illegal.

DFG Reminds Campers to Be Bear Aware this Memorial Day Weekend

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

Thousands of campers will head to the mountains this holiday weekend, and many may be unaware that they are entering bear country. To keep bears in the wild and the public safe, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds visitors to follow these simple “Bear Aware” tips:

  • Use bear-proof garbage cans whenever possible or store your garbage
    Young bear walking in the water

     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.
  • Don’t sleep in clothes you wore while cooking.
  • Avoid camping in areas where there is evidence of black bears (ie. bear tracks, scat or clawed trees).

With an estimated 30,000 bears inCalifornia, it is not surprising that from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the peak of the camping season,DFGis inundated with calls about bears 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,” said Marc Kenyon, DFG’s Bear Program Manager. “People are the root of the problem and it’s their behavior that we need to change. By taking just a few precautions to secure food and trash, visitors to bear country 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.”

For more information, visit www.keepmewild.com.

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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