If Cupboard’s Bare, You Might Blame the Bear

First published in the Oct. 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun. By Camila Castellanos and Oscar Areliz.

A La Cañada Flintridge resident of the 500 block in Paulette Place experienced a break-in by an unusual visitor on Monday.
After hearing dishes fall in the kitchen, the homeowner went downstairs and discovered a bear there. The resident immediately left the house with a dog and called the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station at approximately 1:17 p.m.
According to Sgt. John Gilbert, the bear entered the home by clawing through a window screen, knocked over some small dishes and accessed the pantry to eat sugar. Deputies who arrived at the scene were able to scare the bear out of the house and it returned to the forest.
The bear sighting (and then some, in this case) is one of several that have occurred in LCF recently. Though the sheriff’s station did not specify how many have occurred, Gilbert told the Outlook Valley Sun that there have been numerous calls recently about bears here and in surrounding cities.
Local residents, meanwhile, have been tracking the active bears and posting photos to social media throughout the year. Particular concern was expressed over the summer when a bear was hit by a car on Haskell Street, leaving it with an injured back leg. Some speculated that the incident was an intentional hit and run.
After calling the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, one resident was told that the agency does not rehabilitate adult bears but that it will come out to euthanize the animal if it is in obvious physical distress.
“Apparently the bear was hit by a truck that people said aimed right for it and never slowed down,” said Mack Dugger, an avid supporter of Big Bear Alpine Zoo, to which he reached out about a potential rescue. “For someone to hit a bear, maybe on purpose … one can only hope they damaged their truck.”
The bear was seen hiding under cars and in bushes, and hobbling on three legs for several weeks: “He can’t do much on three legs, especially if he has to hunt and grouse,” Dugger added. “All the neighbors have called but the Forest Service has said the only thing they will do is come out and put him down. And we don’t want that.”
While the bears are typically frequent visitors to the homes bordering the Los Angeles Forest, the animals have begun frequenting more residential neighborhoods as they widen their search for food and water.
Carrie Smith, who lives on Daleridge Road, had never heard of one in her neighborhood before a large black bear climbed the tall pine outside her balcony. It stayed there the entire day, prompting Smith and a few neighbors to become concerned that it might be stuck.
“That was a weird, interesting day,” Smith laughed. “It kept going higher and higher and made no signs of coming down. There was quite a big response from the fire and police department.”
One bear that has a green tag with the number 162 has been repeatedly witnessed bathing in local pools and fountains, as well as tipping over trash cans, prompting some residents to reflect with concern on the old adage “a fed bear is a dead bear.”
Kathryn Leonard, who lives off of Alta Canyada, has repeatedly seen bear 162, including twice at her screen door.
“I tried to shoo him away, but he didn’t seem too concerned about me. … Next time I’m told to bang some pots and pans,” she said, noting that at least three bears have visited her cul-de-sac since summer.
Most recently, the bears have been stealing pumpkins off porches, including Leonard’s, which she found torn into pieces since they only eat the inside.
“I’m changing my way of life and being more cautious to live with the bears,” she said, explaining that she was keeping her trash containers in her garage and completely closing her door, although she prefers to let in the fresh air through the screen.
Officials have recommended that residents request bear-proof trash containers via their waste collection company.
The city recently announced that Fish and Wildlife will give a presentation on human-bear interactions on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The presentation will be simulcast by Spectrum on Channel 3 (East) and Channel 16 (West) and will include topics such as how to respond and prevent human-bear conflicts.
For more information about the online event, visit cityoflcf.org or contact Christina Nguyen at cnguyen@lcf.ca.gov.