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Piece of Mind: Digging for the bear explanation

August 08, 2012|By Carol Cormaci

Sometime Wednesday morning, while flipping between a TV news interview with tearful Olympic athlete Lolo Jones (her feelings hurt by a New York Times piece critical of her track performances in recent days) and an update on the series of earthquakes that began the night before, I landed on a channel showing a teaser for an upcoming segment: A neighborhood in the foothills was again reporting a bear sighting.

Actually, this time it was an ursine trio, a mother and her two cubs. The two little ones played in a swimming pool while their parental unit presumably took on the role of lifeguard.

The news promo did its job: I endured the commercials in order to find out exactly where these bears had been sighted. Was it in our city (again)? La Crescenta (again)? Glendale (again)? Pasadena (again)? Altadena? Sierra Madre? Monrovia? Duarte?

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I learned when the commercials were over that the latest frolic took place on Riviera Drive in East Pasadena. It was reported that the family of black bears ambled back up into the Angeles National Forest on Monday night, once they'd had their fill of water games and grub.

Yes, the Olympics have caught my attention, and the fantastic Mars landing Sunday night of the rover Curiosity completely wowed me (yay, JPLers!). But the numerous bear sightings reported in La Cañada Flintridge alone over the past couple of years, added to the visits to our neighboring communities, have left me wondering what the heck is going on.

A state Department of Fish and Game spokesman interviewed a few times in 2011 and 2012 for stories that have appeared in our paper insists the uptick in visits to the urban interface by bears has nothing to do with the 2009 Station fire and just about everything to do with the delicious food we humans either grow in our gardens or throw into our trash cans.

I'll buy his explanation partially, but come on! People have been growing fruit and throwing away T-bones here for more than 140 years. In the 15 years I've worked at the Valley Sun, I've pored through vintage editions of the paper dating back to 1946 and have seen very few articles on the subject of bear visits. That changed in April 2011, when we learned that a bear had stolen chickens from a backyard on Bonita Vista Drive, in the upper Alta Canyada area.

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