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.
“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.
Jeff Villepique, CDFW Wildlife Biologist, (760) 937-5966
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944