Bear killing angers Forest Falls community; woman says she had no choice

Leticia Juarez Image
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Bear killing angers Forest Falls community; woman says she had no choice
A bear was shot and killed in Forest Falls, sparking anger in the community.

FOREST FALLS, Calif. (KABC) -- Neighbors in Forest Falls were angered to learn a bear was shot and killed on Sunday. But Julie Strauja said her family had several close encounters with the bear, including when it got into her kitchen on Friday.

"I have three little kids and it was pretty terrifying to come home to a bear in the kitchen," Julie Strauja said.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said the bear caused damage to the home and injured Strauja's dog. She said that incident coupled with several other close encounters left her with no other option.

Strauja was granted a permit by the Department of Fish and Wildlife to shoot the bear if it came back to her home. A friend of Strauja shot the bear after it tried to enter her home a third day in a row, according to officials.

"I got the deprivation permit because I needed to protect my family," Strauja said.

Still, residents were shocked to learn a bear was killed.

"My heart sunk," Alycia Wheeler said. "They are beloved to us up here."

"People get attached to their bears up here," Frank Sexton said.

Strauja moved into the neighborhood in July and said she had done everything to keep the bear at bay, including moving her trash inside the home after the bear broke into the garage.

"I stopped keeping trash in my trash can locked in the garage," she explained. "I now keep it in the house, but when the bear broke in he didn't even go for the trash."

Residents said it was the second bear killed in two years and they're now looking for solutions.

One thought is bear-proof trash cans, but they can be costly at $350 each. So residents have started a GoFundMe page.

"For people who can't afford the cans or need help on education," Wheeler said.

The community was invited to attend a meeting at the Forest Falls Community Center on Monday to learn more about living with bears.

If you'd like to donate to the initiative to buy bear-proof trash cans, click here.