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Officials defend response to backyard bear

Fish and Game officials called only if humans are in danger, they say.

April 27, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com
  • A bear makes its way back toward the Angeles National Forest early last Thursday after spending most of the night dining on chickens in the backyard of a home on Bonita Vista Drive. (Photo courtesy of John Peterson)
A bear makes its way back toward the Angeles National Forest…

A La Cañada Flintridge woman is raising concerns about local response to encounters with potentially dangerous local wildlife in the wake of a confrontation last week with a California black bear.

There have been multiple bear sightings recently in La Cañada hillside neighborhoods, said Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Dave Silversparre, but none of those incidents have posed a level of danger to residents that would require removal of the bear.

According to local Chamber of Commerce President Pat Anderson, a bear has been frequenting her Paradise Valley neighborhood weekly for at least four months. More than two dozen people have reported sightings in and around upper Ocean View Boulevard to the Paradise Valley Homeowners Association, she said.

But unless a bear appears to pose a direct threat to human life, said Silversparre, Sheriff’s Department directives require deputies to only observe the animal and defer to wardens of the state Department of Fish and Game.

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So far, that agency has not found frequent local bear sightings to be a sign that hillside residents are in any imminent danger, said spokesman Andrew Hughan.

Just making a mess

Silversparre said he has kept in close contact with Fish and Game, and officials there have told him the presence of at least one bear in the hills of La Cañada has not triggered concern for public safety.

“According to people, the bear has been non-aggressive toward humans and is, to quote, ‘just making a mess’ [while sifting through trash]” said Silversparre. “The threat level has not been raised as imminent to human beings, and so [Fish and Game has] no plans on removing it.”

The bear roaming Paradise Valley just seems to ignore people, said Anderson. While walking to her car in the neighborhood around 11 p.m. about four months ago, she came within six feet of it.

“We just stood there staring at each other for a moment, and then he went on sniffing around,” she said.

City Manager Mark Alexander said Tuesday that recent bear encounters have prompted him to request increased contact with the Department of Fish and Game. Silversparre said he has asked local wardens to join him during public safety presentations during an upcoming City Council meeting.

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