LA County approves plan to address increase in bear sightings

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Human encounters with wildlife have surged in the Foothill communities, prompting LA County Supervisors to take action to keep everyone safe.

Sierra Madre is one of the towns that has seen a huge uptick in bear sightings, just in the last four weeks they’ve had nearly 100 reports. It’s not just bears, there are also mountain lions, deer, and coyotes, but bears appear to be the most bold entering cars, garages and sometimes homes.

“This week I saw them three times and it was late at night,” said Sierra Madre resident Debbie Taylor.

Debbie Taylor has lived in Sierra Madre for 13 years, she’s not afraid of them but is still cautious since they’re wild animals.

“I just thought he looked like an Alan, and he stayed there for a minute and I said stay there for a second I’m going to get my phone and take a picture,” said Taylor.

Most of the bears will leave the neighborhoods on their own if they don’t find food, but sometimes they cause serious damage to homes and cars searching for food.

“Incredibly comfortable around people, they’ve been born here now at this point this is their neighborhood too and they don’t feel threatened by us, and we’re pretty reliable food source and water,” said Mary’s Market Café Co-Owner Jenny Kay.

Jenny Kay co-owns Mary’s Market Café in Sierra Madre, she says bears visit her restaurant several times a week and sometimes will swipe a sandwich if it’s left out. 

“We lucky to live in such a beautiful place with wildlife and the wilderness but they are a little bit of a nuisance,” said Kay.

Last year Sierra Madre declared them a threat to public safety, with sightings tripling from the previous year to more than 300. 

“This is not healthy for them to eat here, they need to learn to use their own natural resources and not using us as their feeding sources and that takes a whole neighborhood,” said Sierra Madre City Council Member Kris Lowe.

LA County Board of Supervisors approved a plan Tuesday to provide funding for specialists with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a management plan that will help wild animals safely co-exist with humans. 

“What these specialists do is really do the research, following the DNA which bears are where as well as tracking them as much as possible and trying to find their numbers and what their habits are and how they’re changing and their population changes over time,” said Lowe.

LA County also plans to provide education and outreach to the Foothill neighborhoods on this growing problem. Sierra Madre is urging everyone to be proactive, telling them to not leave out any food, closing all windows and doors, and using bear- resistant trash cans with locking lids that are free to Sierra Madre residents.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.