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Monrovia residents at fault for bear problem?

January 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The city of Monrovia is planning a crackdown on the increasing number of encroaching bears, and the residents who "invite" them into neighborhoods.City officials took up the issue at a city council meeting Tuesday night to try to come up with answers to the increasing problem of bears in the city.

In a report to the city council Tuesday night, Monrovia Police Chief Roger Johnson blamed the bear invasion on those who violate trash laws.

"[Bears] come down and get the easy pickings, things out of the trash," said Johnson. "And then when that's not enough, they go to the next step. And so while that person is OK with picking up this trash, he's creating a monster in that wildlife."

Johnson urged the city to mandate bear-proof containers, to limit when people can leave out trash cans, and to fine violators.

Johnson said the bear-problem area is the north end of Monrovia. He doesn't necessarily think the ordinances should be forced citywide. He recommends allowing residents to put up electric fences to ward off bears.

Monrovia police handled more than 460 bear-related calls in 2009, compared to 120 calls in 2008.

"I think it's important to note that you need to have come kind of controls in place that make the residences in this community almost equally accountable as the bears should be," said Monrovia City Councilman Joe Garcia before the city council meeting.

Residents say they have noticed more bears coming into the neighborhoods, looking for food in trash bins.

"I think definitely in May, June, July there was a massive, big increase," said resident Eero Gathers. "I'd say it's the most we've seen in the entire five years that we've been here, in those two to three months."

Monrovia resident Cyrus Kemp believes it's too late to do anything about the bears.

"It's not wildlife anymore, these are urban bears. We have third-generation garbage-can bears and they come around two, three times a week, they get in the trash," said Kemp.