“I live by JPL and have encountered mountain lions and rattlesnakes but never a bear,” said longtime La Cañada resident Mark Goddard. “I came out here tonight to learn what I should do if and when that happens.”
An estimated 40,000 black bears live in California. With the last bear sighting on May 14 at the intersection of Pine Cone Road and Pinelawn Drive in La Crescenta, many attendees wanted tips on how to prevent bears from venturing into the foothills.
Lieutenant Marty Wall of the California Department of Fish and Game shared several precautionary tips for bear-proofing your home.
“Prevention is the key. You need to stop the reason the bears are venturing down,” said Wall. “You need to make you house less desirable than your neighbor’s house. The bear will always take the easiest path in life.”
Wall strongly advised that bear conflict is largely the result of human behavior. In order to lessen you chance of conflict, follow these simple guidelines:
- Spray ammonia on your trash. Bears will be turned off by the smell.
- Don’t take your trash out until the morning of trash day. “When you’re making the personal decision to take it out in the morning as opposed to night that gives you an extra 12 hours where a bear is not going to come,” Assemblyman Portantino said at the meeting.
- Install motion sensor lights on your property.
- If you encounter a bear while it is eating, let the bear finish its meal. Back off and evaluate what the bear is doing.
- Never approach a bear. If you see a bear keep your distance and take pictures from afar.
- Keep all pet food inside.
- If you have fruit trees, be sure to pick up any fruit that has fallen.
- If you contact a bear, make eye contact without staring.
- If a bear seems aggressive or harms anyone, immediately call 911.
While the city of La Cañada Flintridge allows residents to keep koi fish and chickens in their yards, these animals do attract bears. A California black bear reportedly ate four chickens at a home on Bonita Vista Drive in April.
“It would be wrong to penalize the entire city and prevent residents from keeping chickens,” said Council Member Donald Voss at the forum. “We encourage residents use common sense when keeping chickens. There are certain areas where it is more hazardous to have animals.”
For more information on bear safety, visit the California Department of Fish and Game website.