Experts weigh in on bizarre SoCal bear sightings caught on camera

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Is drought to blame for more bear sightings in SoCal neighborhoods?
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Encounters with bears appear to be on the rise in residential areas across Southern California, and experts say there's a good reason for that.

SIERRA MADRE, Calif. (KABC) -- In the last couple of months, the Gernon family in Sierra Madre has seen a momma bear and her two cubs in their backyard two to three times a week.

"I mean it's a beautiful thing to see, but it's worrisome at the same time. We're seeing it so often," said Sloan Gernon.

She's captured video of the bears climbing their trees and getting in their pool.

"We're definitely in their backyard. We realized soon after living in Sierra Madre that we don't need a zoo membership anymore," said Gernon.

We're hearing a lot more of these stories, like the search for an energetic cub seen a number of times in Monrovia this week, or the family of bears playing on a tire swing in La Cañada. Plus, the porch pirate bear stealing an Amazon package full of chocolate in La Verne.

RELATED: Bear caught on video stealing package from La Verne porch

While it may seem like there's a lot more sightings these days, Fish and Wildlife says it could be due to more cameras capturing them or simply more people working from home to witness it. But a wildlife expert who spoke with Eyewitness News says it could always be due to the drought.

"There is a drought. There are food shortages. Bears have large ranges that they wander through looking for food and resources, and if they find water and other resources near people, they might overcome their initial fears and grow accustomed to people and then we suddenly have bears in our backyards," said Daniel Blumstein, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

That's why he says it's so important to take away any reason for bears to come close, like using bear-proof trash cans and properly cleaning up your barbecue grill.

"Preventing bears from being accustomed to humans and preventing bears from associating food with humans is a key toward co-existing with bears," said Blumstein.

Especially in neighborhoods that are built where bears live.

"We did notice a big change when we switched over to the bear trash cans, because every Thursday morning along Grand View, you see trash cans knocked over," said Gernon. "so they come, they know when trash day happens."