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Tuesday, Aug 12 2014 08:29 AM

Bear sightings increase, state agency offer tips

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David Brands took this photo of a Black Bear from his back yard on Mariposa Road. The bear was looking into the back yard of a neighbor on Old Town Road around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6. Coincidentally, he spotted a badger in the same location the evening before.

Carin Reddig didn't see a bear, but she did find evidence of a visit from one recently and is among a number of local residents who have had some kind of contact with wild animals this summer.

Reddig said her two young goats were missing when she and her family went to feed them one day on the week of July 21.

"There was a huge hole dug underneath the pen," Reddig said. "One goat was gone and there were only a few hooves and other parts remaining of the other one."

Reddig's encounter isn't the only encounter with bears in the Tehachapi area. More and more are being sighted, including Bear Valley, Sand Canyon and parts of Golden Hills.

David H. Brands photographed one on Aug. 6 (see page 4). He said the bear didn't pose a threat to him, but he wondered if it would be a danger to dogs or cats in his neighborhood and jokingly said he wouldn't mind if it would help him out with his gopher population.

Bear Valley Police Department said it has regular incidents of bear sightings in places like San Juan Drive, Deertrail Road and Martingale Way.

According to Sgt. Jackie Newell with Kern County Sheriff's Office, three sightings of bears appeared in Sand Canyon in July in the same general area.

However, it appears to be business as usual for the wildlife in the area, according to Andrew Hughan, a an information officer with California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"It's summertime so it's pretty normal behavior for bears and wildlife to wander out," Hughan said on Aug. 6.

Hughan added that it's not so much increased number of bears and other animals, but increased sightings.

"Everyone with a cellphone is taking photos and sharing it on Facebook or Twitter and word spreads," Hughan said.

Another reason for bears and other animals wandering farther down from mountains is attractants.

"It's not a bear problem, it's a people problem," Hughan said. He added people should not leave out food, barbecue grills or trash bins because those will seem like an invitation for a bear to pop in for a bite to eat.

"They are looking for every possible opportunity to eat and will find a way," Hughan said.

Many local residents have speculated that they are seeing more wild animals because of the drought. While the continuing drought has made some things more difficult for wild animals, Hughan said his agency's scientists have found no direct evidence that weather is directly behind it.

"There are lots of things that are responsible," Hughan said. Those reasons includes looking for food, water and sniffing out attractants left out by residents, as well as increasing encroachment and home building in bear territory.

Among some of things residents in the Tehachapi area can do is make sure to clean up any fallen fruit or nuts, make sure that fruit is picked from trees and keep trash bins and barbecues inside a garage or another secure location.

More importantly, Hughan advised not to leave water out for wild animals animals, including bear or deer.

"Do not give water to bears," Hughan said. "They will be fine and they will find water where people can't."

Most bears, he said, will likely run off at the first sight of a human, especially if that person makes loud noises. The same goes with mountain lions.

"Mountain lions don't want anything to do with people," Hughan said.

He advised people to be aware of their surroundings, especially when out around dusk or dawn, and look up in the trees every so often -- a favorite place for mountain lions to lurk.

Hughan advised people to access Fish and Wildlife's resources, including a program called "Keep Me Wild," available online at dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/bear.html.

"The important thing is to be safe and be aware of your surroundings," Hughan said.

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2014/12/17
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