By Mary O’KEEFE
Residents in Crescenta Valley understand they live in the mountains. There are deer, coyotes and the occasional mountain lion. But it is a bear that has been getting most of the attention – and press – lately.
The bear began gaining a real following after an appearance in the 3700 block of Beechglen Drive, a north Glendale neighborhood where he, or she, entered an open garage in mid-March and helped himself (herself) to some food in the refrigerator.
“The garage door was open and there was rotting meat in the refrigerator,” said Andrew Hughan of the California Fish and Game Department.
The refrigerator was not working at the time and the smell of the spoiled meat was something the bear could not apparently pass up.
“It did get into the garage, but ran away when [approached],” Hughan said. “We don’t know if it is a female or a male bear.”
Since then the bear has made numerous appearances in the nearby neighborhoods.
“We have patrols in the area every day,” Hughan said. “We don’t hunt bears until they become a real problem.”
That problem, according to Fish and Game, is determined by the bear’s reaction to humans. At present the bear will run when he hears a noise.
“When there is the slightest bit of activity, the bear runs away,” he said. “If he becomes brazen or just sits and looks at someone [instead of running then Fish and Game will respond differently].”
But it is how comfortable the bear seems to be in the local neighborhoods that concerns Della Maupin.
She and her husband Bill have lived in the Mountain Oaks area for 48 years and have dealt with mountain lions, coyotes and a lot of rattlesnakes. Bears are a new issue.
“[The bear] was here this morning (Wednesday). I heard him break the gate,” Maupin said. “He pulled it apart. Pulled the screws out of the gate and then went in our backyard.”
The Maupins had cleaned the area with bleach, hoping that would cancel out any smell of garbage which attracts the bear.
“That didn’t work. I called 911 and the Glendale police were out here fast and took a report,” she said.
“We are patrolling the area but we can’t do anything,” said Sgt. Tom Lorenz, GPD.
The police can honk horns and make noise to scare the bear but, unlike the coyotes, bears are in the jurisdiction of Fish and Game.
Hughan said his department is working closely with GPD and are noting every time a resident calls in reporting the bear.
In Mountain Oaks, the bear does not seem to care whether he is under the jurisdiction of GPD or Fish and Game. He has found a home.
“He has hit every house here. Last week he was here Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Maupin added.
The bear has seemed to make the Maupin neighbor’s yard his number one territory.
The neighbors are taking the suggestion of keeping the garbage cans in closed areas and not putting them on the curb the night before trash pick up. But the bear seems to be clever and determined.
One neighbor had two trash cans that he built a gate around with a latch to close the doors. Another neighbor watched the bear go to the latch, open it and pull the trash bins out.
What worries Maupin, however, is that the bear is not only active at night but has now ventured out during the day.
“Two weeks ago I was up and went outside to throw trash away around 2 p.m. I shut the gate and went back inside,” she said.
About an hour later, she went outside and her garbage cans were once again tipped over and garbage thrown about – the bear’s signature style.
Mountain Oaks is adjacent to Crescenta Valley Park, which is a popular walking/hiking destination.
“That is what concerns us. What if he decides to go down instead of up [here]? There is a playground there,” she said.
“Bears are tricky. We have to take it on a case by case [basis],” Hughan said.
“To the [residents’] credit, they have been taking care of the garbage for the past few weeks.”
Lorenz added that for the most part people have taken heed of the Fish and Game warnings but there are still some who are making it easy for the bear.
“We have had some neighbors call and tell us that they not putting their [garbage bins] out but then tell us their neighbors [continue to put the bins] out,” Lorenz said.
“The fate of the bear depends on the people up there,” Hughan said.
Maupin is still concerned that the fate of the bear may be decided not by the neighbors but the bear himself.
“I just hope they aren’t going to wait until someone gets hurt,” she said.