Tag Archives: bears

Black Bear Attacks Man in Mariposa County

Media Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (530) 523-6720

Black Bear Attacks Man in Mariposa County

Wildlife officials are investigating a bear attack that resulted in serious injuries early this morning in Mariposa County.

warden on site 1
A CDFW warden investigates on site where a black bear attacked a man this morning in Mariposa County.

The attack occurred in the town of Midpines, when the man stepped out of his house in the dark.  A large black bear struck the man from behind, knocking the victim to the ground.  The man fought the bear, and in the struggle sustained multiple puncture wounds and lacerations to his head, legs, arms, abdomen, hands and feet. Although injured, the man was able to get away from the animal and drive himself to the hospital, where he was treated and released later in the day.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers and USDA Wildlife Service personnel are jointly conducting an investigation. The bear was not in the vicinity when investigators arrived, but tracking dogs will be used to follow its scent. Due to the severity of the attack, and the need to collect forensic evidence from the bear, it will be humanely destroyed when found.

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office and CDFW are advising residents in the 5000 block of Colorado Road in Midpines to be aware of their surroundings and keep an eye on children and pets.  Should you encounter a bear in that area, do not approach it and call 911.

CDFW reminds residents to be bear aware, never leave trash outdoors and do not feed pets outdoors.  In addition, all rural residents and recreationist should be mindful of nearby wildlife and potential risks of this type.  Attacks on humans by wildlife remain uncommon but do occur on occasion. Basic safety and preventative actions greatly reduce the risk of attack.

Caltrans and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Urge Motorists to Be Alert During Watch Out for Wildlife Week

Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remind motorists to remain alert for wildlife near roadways during Watch Out for Wildlife Week (WOW), which runs September 15-21.

“It’s important that motorists, when driving through areas frequented by deer, elk and other animals, be alert to protect themselves as well as California’s wildlife,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

Defenders of Wildlife (Defenders), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native species and their natural communities, reports more than 200 people are killed nationally in collisions with deer, elk and other large mammals each year with an estimated 1.5 million animals hit annually.

The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, Defenders and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

“It’s a shame that many animals and people are injured and killed on our roads every year,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Game Program Manager. “Many injuries, deaths and costly vehicle repairs can be avoided if drivers would pay more attention when animals are most active, and be prepared to react safely if an animal moves onto the road.”

Caltrans, CDFW and Defenders offer a few tips for motorists:

  • Be particularly alert when driving in areas frequented by wildlife and give yourself more time to react safely by reducing your speed.
  • Pay particular attention when driving during morning and evening, as wildlife are most active during these times.
  • If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. The odors may entice animals to venture near roadways.

Here are a few examples of what Caltrans, CDFW and their partners are doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions:

a beautiful golden bob cat walking out from a highway underpass
A bobcat that just crossed safely under State Route 76 in San Diego County. Caltrans photo
two coyotes walk into concrete underpass to reach other side of a highway
Coyotes safely cross under SR 76 in San Diego County. Caltrans photo

Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, Los Angeles County
Caltrans has applied for $2 million in federal funding for the environmental and engineering design phases of a future wildlife crossing over U.S. Highway 101 at Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills. In the interim, Caltrans is providing wildlife fencing in Liberty Canyon to prevent wildlife mortalities along the freeway until a permanent structure can be built. The highway presents an impassible barrier for wildlife migrating into or out of the Santa Monica Mountains.  A new wildlife crossing promises to provide an improved habitat connection that will sustain and improve the genetic diversity of wildlife in the area.

State Route 76, San Diego County
Five wildlife crossings and directional fencing were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project in 2012. A wildlife movement study, including road kill surveys, camera station surveys and tracking transect surveys, is underway to determine the effectiveness of the crossings and fencing. A review of the data collected to date suggests the combination of directional fencing and wildlife crossings may be limiting vehicle-wildlife collisions and allowing for wildlife movement across SR-76. Medium-to-large species using the wildlife crossings include the badger, bobcat, coyote, raccoon, striped skunk, desert cottontail and opossum.

State Route 17, Santa Cruz
Caltrans has built wildlife undercrossings to accommodate wildlife on several highways in the Bay Area and is currently working with the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to build a new wildlife undercrossing at the Laurel Curve on State Route 17. Since 2007, motorists have hit 14 mountain lions along this section of the highway in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Land Trust is working to raise $5 million to purchase land on either side of the Laurel Curve, which would make it possible for Caltrans to proceed with building the undercrossing.

Central Coast
Caltrans is seeking $1.8 million in federal funding to finance wildlife corridor projects in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties where local wildlife exists in close proximity to state highways. If the request is approved, Caltrans will obtain an additional $2.5 million in state funding to finance all aspects of the projects. Caltrans assembled an extensive list of stakeholders and partners for this proposal, including the California State Coastal Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, UC Davis, the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, the Pinnacles National Monument and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County.

Caltrans has installed new wildlife fencing and electric mats at unfenced intersections along U.S. Highway 101 near San Luis Obispo, which bisects a major wildlife corridor in the Los Padres National Forest.

Media Contacts:
Mark Dinger, Caltrans Public Affairs, 916-657-5060
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, 916-322-2420

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

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.