By Mary O’KEEFE
Every once and a while it is important to remind people in the foothills that they share their community with a variety of wildlife and that living with them does not mean feeding them.
Although it may be done with the best of intentions, in the foothills feeding wild animals actually endangers them and disrupts their natural order.
The California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife has a “Keep Me Wild” plan that deals with this issue.
“You may not realize it [but] a simple bag of garbage, bowl of pet food, or plate of leftovers left outside your home or vacation site, can cause severe harm to wildlife,” states the Fish and Wildlife website.
This issue, as well as what wildlife have been seen lately in Crescenta Valley, will be discussed on Monday at the community Bear Aware meeting “Living in Bear Country.” Andrew Hughan with the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife will lead the meeting that will be held in Sadler Hall at St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“We live in an area that has wildlife. Bobcats, mountain lions, bears and coyotes, but not only large animals; we also have small animals like [raccoons], rattlesnakes, rats and mice. There is a lot of wildlife here,” said Don Ross, president of CV Fire Safe Council/CV Ready. “If you feed a bear [there is a chance] it will be a dead bear.”
Anyone who has lived in the CV area in the past few years will remember Meatball, the “Crescenta Valley” bear. He first appeared in the Whiting Woods area and got his name after he dined on meatballs taken from a resident’s outside refrigerator. From that point Meatball was seen around the local neighborhoods acting more like Yogi Bear than a wild bear.
Meatball was found, tranquilized and transported back to Angeles National Forest several times until finally it was determined he could no longer survive in the wild. He had been too domesticated, wanting food prepared more for humans than animals.
Luckily Fish and Wildlife did not have to put him down because Bobbi Brink and her compound Lions, Tigers and Bears just outside San Diego was able to give Meatball a place to live out his life; however, it is still preferred that all wild animals remain wild and not caged.
It is not just the feeding of animals but how to react when confronted by a wild animal that will be discussed at the event on Monday, as well as how to keep family pets safe.
“[CV Ready] will be there and will have some information for [attendees],” Ross said.
Resident Kim Mattersteig, who reached out to Ross, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. and Fish and Wildlife, organized the event.
“It started as a community conversation. We were connecting over all the wild life activity,” Mattersteig said.
She admitted to being on edge when hearing about animals like mountain lions and bobcats in the area. About three years ago Mattersteig’s little dog Bridget was killed by a mountain lion that leaped over her backyard fence. It was about 8:30 in the evening when Bridget was let out in the yard after being in the house for several hours. The family soon heard something scrambling over the back fence and discovered that the mountain lion had killed their family pet.
Mattersteig has seen many more bobcats, mountain lions and bears and understands what living in the foothills means.
“But we just want people to stay informed,” she said.
St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church, Sadler Hall is located at 2563 Foothill Blvd. The discussion is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 8.