Entries in Bears (6)


Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Your Neighborhood Bear

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DUARTE, Clif.) -- April showers may bring May flowers, but in the foothills of Southern California, you can also expect bears.

From May 1 to June 21, as grills fire up and tasty smells waft through the neighborhood, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife considers it "second bear season."

The department spokesman, Andrew Hughan, told ABC News that he expects to spot at least one bear a week for the next month.

So far, the bears have already been living up to his predictions. All around Southern California, news reports have shown bears climbing fences, spooking horses and roaming streets all in search of their next meal.

One woman in Duarte, Calif., came downstairs thinking there was a burglar in her home. Instead, she found a cub halfway through her kitchen window.

"You must have had something that smelled good in that kitchen," the 911 operator told the woman, who had barricaded herself in her bedroom bathroom, according to the 911 recording obtained by ABC News.

And that's the problem.

As bears eat more human food or garbage, or even the fish out of the koi pond, they become habituated to a human food source and less frightened of people, according to the California Department of Fish and Wild Life website. This could lead to a more tenacious and even aggressive bear.

"Once a bear's habituated, they cannot unlearn," Hughan told ABC News. "It's a death sentence."

That's because bears that stubbornly return time and again to scour the same neighborhood can be put down, according to the "black bear depredation policy" in California.

"We've moved bears 100 miles away and they'll come back... following the scent trails." Hughan said.
He added that one bear even came back to the very same trash can.

A bear's sense of smell is 100 times better than a bloodhound's and 1,000 times better than a human's. So residents need to be smart.

Bottom line: If we don't set the plate, bears will not come. Don't leave food outside, secure your trash bins, and even clean barbecue grills.

There are ways to live with the bear population that is both safe for us and safe for them. Perhaps it could even evolve into a mutually beneficial relationship.

The Living With Wildlife Foundation (LWWF) in Montana works with bears at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center wildlife park that can no longer live in the wild because they were orphaned young or habituated.

Patti Sowka, director of the LWWF, told ABC News that the bears can assist companies by testing "bear-proof" products filled with anything from huckleberry jam to muskrat castor oil to see if the items can live up to the product guarantee -- a real-world take on quality control.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Bear Epidemic Expected to Worsen in the West

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Across the West, communities are in the midst of a black bear epidemic this summer as the hungry critters venture into backyards and neighborhoods in a search for food.

Cities like Vail, Colo., have received more than 50 calls about problem bears in August alone.  Bear calls are also skyrocketing in places like Aspen, Colo.  Police there recorded 292 calls about bears in August, compared to only 38 last year, according to the Aspen Times.

The bear encounters have largely been fueled by a search for food -- something bears will need a lot more of as they bulk up for winter hibernation.  In other words, the problem is about to get worse.

“They’re looking at trying to consume 20,000 calories a day.  They will spend 20 of 24 hours a day looking for food,” said Randy Hampton with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department.

It’s bad news for people like Melissa Carroll of Eagle, Colo.  She’s endured five separate bear invasions in her home this year, including one face-to-face encounter on her back porch.  The bear tore its claws into a back door trying to escape, leaving behind serious damage.

“Seeing one right like that, it took me a long time to calm down,” she told ABC News.

The wave of bruin break-ins can partly be blamed on severe drought.  A lack of rain means natural foods are scarce, sending bears hunting for an easy alternative: people food.  Bears have been spotted breaking into trash cans, searching for any calories they can get.  One bear even broke into a candy shop near Estes Park, Colo., to steal sweets.

The bad news for bears is that human foods get them accustomed to people, which inevitably leads to trouble.

“Generally the bear has to be put down once it becomes aggressive,” Hampton says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Furry Car Burglars Loose in Colorado

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo.) -- A gang of car burglars have residents of Colorado’s Snowmass Village on edge and the mountain town’s police force on high alert after reports of at least 14 cars broken into.

The suspects are proving elusive to capture but easy to identify, namely by the prints they leave behind: big, furry paw prints.  The suspects in this crime drama are a mother bear and her three cubs that have been reportedly breaking into cars in the town near Aspen over the past week in search of food, the Aspen Daily News reports.

The bears were caught red-handed Saturday night when the unidentified owner of a car they were breaking into opened the door to find them inside.  The mother scampered away but when police arrived two of the cubs were still in the car and captured on-camera by quick-thinking Officer David Heivly of the Snowmass Village Police Department.

Most of the break-ins came by the bears simply opening an unlocked car door, prompting the local transportation department to issue a plea to residents.

“Bears are breaking into cars in Snowmass Village,” the Town of Snowmass Village Transportation Department posted on its Facebook page Sunday, along with the photo of the cubs.  “Please lock your cars and try to clean all traces of food out of them. On second thought, sell your car and ride the Village Shuttle. Beats having to clean it. Seriously! Lock your cars. These cute little guys lives depend on you to act responsibly in bear country.”

Wildlife officials confirmed to the Aspen Daily that they have set up two traps in the village to try and capture and relocate the bears.

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“We’re trying to get a hold of her before she breaks into any homes,” Kevin Wright, a wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the paper.

Officials say the bears’ meandering into human territory is most likely a result of the area’s drought conditions that are pushing them out of the wilderness in search of food.  Many of the break-ins have occurred near a mall by a mountain where officials believe the bears are roaming.

The town is erecting “Bear Alert” signs on Wednesday and distributing “Bears in Your Area” brochures.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vermont Governor Chased By Four Bears

Office of the Governor(MONTPELIER, Vt.) -- Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says he was in bed Wednesday night when he heard something outside of his Montpelier home. He went outside and found four bears attacking his bird-feeders.

“He went through the kitchen and out the back door to scare the bears away,” the governor’s spokeswoman Sue Allen said. “There were two adult bears and two cubs.”

Shumlin then proceeded to bring all bird-feeders inside the house when one of the bears charged towards him.

“The bear got within three feet of him before he was able to shut the door,” Allen said.

The governor’s Montpelier house is 10-15 minutes from the nearest residential area.

Shumlin was unharmed.

“No harm to the bears or the governor,” Allen said. “He’s urging all Vermonters to bring in feeders at night and don’t put them up in the spring.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wild Animals Loose in Ohio: Town Under Lockdown

Fred Polks, Jr.UPDATE: The only animal believed to still be at large is a monkey, Zanesville police said Wednesday.

(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) --  A grizzly bear, mountain lion and a monkey are still on the loose in Ohio after authorities hunted down as many as 51 ferocious animals that were set free by the owner of an animal preserve before he killed himself.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz told reporters he can't be 100 percent sure that those three animals are the only ones unaccounted for.

Lutz and ABC News' wildlife expert Jack Hanna, who will take the living animals at the preserve to the Columbus Zoo, urged the public to remain cautious.

"If you see these animals you do not run," said Hanna, who added he is most concerned about the mountain lion, since those animals have "great leaping ability."

The sheriff said that when his men arrived at the animal preserve in Zanesville, they found bears, lions, Bengal tigers, black bears, and leopards roaming the area. Since it was about to get dark, he feared the animals would escape into the night.

He said his deputies had to kill animals at close range with their sidearms. One animal that got away was hit by a car on a highway some distance away, he said.

The animals' cages were opened up by Terry Thompson, who owned an animal preserve in Zanesville. Thompson killed himself after freeing his menagerie, Lutz said.

Hanna and his vets visited the farm Wednesday, calling conditions deplorable.

The man who is believed to have set the animals free, Thompson, 61, was recently released from prison after serving one year on federal weapons charges. According to investigators he has been cited in the past for animal abuse and neglect.

Lutz said at a news conference that residents should stay inside until the animals, which escaped around 6 p.m. Tuesday, are rounded up. Several schools across the area have cancelled classes for Wednesday.

Police, who have been ordered to shoot to kill, describe the loose animals as "mature, very big and aggressive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lions, Tigers, Bears on the Loose in Ohio

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) -- As many as 48 wild animals, including cheetahs, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, tigers and lions, are on the loose in the area of Zanesville, Ohio, after they escaped from a private wildlife preserve, police said Tuesday night.

Officers believe they have shot as many as 25 of the animals so far, but it is not clear exactly how many escaped, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said that until the animals are rounded up, people should stay inside.

“These are wild animals, wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa,” Mutz said at a news conference Tuesday evening.

The owner of the preserve was found dead, but it’s not clear yet how he died, the sheriff said.

The animals’ pens were found open, and deputies are working with the animals’ caregiver, who says the animals were fed Monday.

They’re putting food in the animals’ pens in the hopes they might return to the pens where they can then secure the animals.

Police describe the animals as “mature, very big and aggressive.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has cordoned off seven square miles near Interstate 70 and officers are using infrared equipment to find the animals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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