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1975 - Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society incorporates as a 501c3 nonprofit [Heritage Junction]


Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jun 8, 2014

DianneErskineHellrigelIt’s “Be Bear Aware” month. When it comes to bears, you need to act responsibly. Bears are attracted to anything edible or even items that have a scent, like toothpaste or soap. It is imperative that you store all of these items out of reach of bears.

This is especially important if you’re on a camping trip or if you interface with the forest. When bears leave their dens in May, they emerge hungry and ready to eat anything and everything in sight. Their traditional foods are grubs, wild berries, plants, roots, honey, insects, small mammals and carrion.

The only bears we have in California are black bears. (Note: They can be black, blonde or cinnamon brown.)

Because there are an estimated 30,000 bears living in California, people need to be aware of bears whenever they are in or near the forest. Although bears will generally try to avoid confrontation with people, almost all conflicts that occur are the fault of the human.

You cannot outrun a bear, so don’t try. They can reach speeds of 35 mph. The more you know about bears, the safer you AND the bear will be.

Bears in the wild forage for food. That’s their job. If you leave a loaf of bread and hot dogs on a picnic table, Mr. Bear is sure to notice and come on over for his share.

bear1A little bit of foresight and care on your part will help you bot. If your bear is reported as a “hot dog thief” and is a repeat offender, he is considered a nuisance bear, and he most likely will be relocated. If it happens again, he will be shot.

In many “bear” areas in California, bears have caused extensive damage to vehicles because food has been left inside. Bears have a keen sense of smell and can smell food from miles away.

Bears are powerful animals and think nothing of completely thrashing a car to get to that piece of candy sitting on the console, or better yet, to raid that ice chest in the back.

They’ve been known to break in because they can smell food trash. Even a single candy bar wrapper can be enough to invite the bears into your car.

Before you leave your vehicle, remove all food-related trash and place it into a bear-safe trash receptacle. When you camp, use the bear boxes that are provided at most campgrounds. If there are no bear boxes, use bear barrels to keep foodstuffs safe from bears and a bear proof ice chest such as YETI to keep bears out and your food safe.

bear4In days past, humans used to hang their food items in trees. But the bears have gotten pretty smart and often are able to get the food out of the tree with much less effort than the humans. Consider investing in a bear-proof ice chest and a bear barrel instead.

It takes only a little bit of common sense on your part to prevent property damage and keep the bears alive and healthy in the forest. Once a bear has become habituated to people, he loses his fear of us and becomes much more bold and dangerous.

When I was a little kid in Yosemite, I watched helplessly as a bear chased my father away from a barbecue and lunched on the ribs Dad was cooking. This habituated bear was later shot.

The following tips are from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

bear3Tips for bear-proofing your home, rental or timeshare

The best defense against bear break-ins is not to attract them to your property by following these tips:

* Purchase and properly use a bear-proof garbage container.

* Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.

* Don’t leave trash, groceries or animal feed in your car.

* Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.

* Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.

* Only provide bird feeders during November through March and make them inaccessible to bears.

* Don’t leave any scented products outside, even non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.

* Keep doors and windows closed and locked.

* Consider installing motion-detector alarms, electric fencing or motion-activated sprinklers.

* Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.

* Securely block access to potential hibernation sites such as crawl spaces under decks and buildings.

 

bear2Tips for bear-proofing your campsite

No one wants to worry about housekeeping on a camping trip, but maintaining a clean campsite is the responsible and safe thing to do when visiting black bear country. Here are a few tips for bear-proofing your campsite:

* Use bear-proof garbage cans whenever possible or store your garbage in a secure location with your food.

* Store food (including pet food) and toiletries in bear-proof containers or in an airtight container in the trunk of your vehicle.

* Clean dishes and store food and garbage immediately after meals.

* Clean the barbecue grill after each use.

* Never keep food or toiletries in your tent.

 

Have a safe summer. Stay “bear aware.” Follow the CDFW guidelines to keep your family, property and the bear safe.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. If you’d like to be part of the solution, join the Community Hiking Club’s Stewardship Committee. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

bear5

 

 

Comment On This Story
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8 Comments

  1. Mary Haskell Mary Haskell says:

    Melissa Bye Adam Bye…made me think of you guys…

  2. This little guy looks sad…..

  3. See I knew there was a reason I don’t like camping. A big, furry reason.

  4. I was in mammoth last year sleeping with my head against the tent wall. Then I heard it. It ran its nose along the tent wall and literally head butted the top of my head. We packed our sh!t and split.

  5. Ckay Walker Ckay Walker says:

    Fruity scented lotions. Leave them home. Anything with food type scent.

  6. Just bring a gun. Done !

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