By Mary O’KEEFE
Crescenta Valley is nestled between Angeles National Forest and the Verdugo Mountains. It is close enough to see the city lights of Los Angeles from residential balconies, but far enough away from the city to keep its small town feeling.
Most who live here know they are sharing their town with wildlife; this is part of the area’s charm and part of its residents’ responsibility. Coyotes, deer, bobcats, mountain lions and bears are just part of the CV life. There are ways to make certain that residents live responsibly alongside wildlife.
There is the beauty of watching a group of deer walk down the street in front of a home, which is not an uncommon sight for the Spatny family that lives on Markridge Road.
“We love the neighborhood,” said Amy Spatny. “Lately, my husband and I have been sighting a deer family strolling and grazing at nearby lawns … They are absolutely gorgeous.”
There have also been sightings of several bobcats lounging on front porches and a bear that was making regular weekend visits to the Hopeton Road and Hawkridge Drive neighborhood. Another was reported in Deukmejian Park. The bear in the Crescenta Valley neighborhood has been seen on the weekends for the last month. He rummages through the trash, according to residents.
Another bear, or perhaps the same one, was spotted on Tuesday night walking in the wash on its way back to the mountains.
Then there was the mountain lion that was struck and killed on the Glendale  Freeway. The vehicle was traveling southbound on the 2 freeway, just north of the Mountain Street exit, said California Highway Patrol Officer Bejar.
“There were no injuries to the driver and minimum damage to the vehicle,” he said.
“It was a full size male, about 100 pounds. It was not collared (meaning it had not been collared for observation),” said Janice Mackey, California Fish and Wildlife.
The mountain lion was struck on the right side of his body and died of the injuries due to the accident.
“This happens occasionally,” Mackey said. “It is the second [mountain lion struck by a vehicle] in the last few weeks in Southern California.”
Mackey added sightings of mountain lions usually have an uptick during the summer season but there had not been an increase reported to Fish and Wildlife.
As for the bear sightings…
“We have a thriving bear population,” Mackey said.
There have been no scientific studies as to the correlation between drought and bears coming into neighborhoods, she said. Though the high heat and search for water may be part of why there is more wildlife in neighborhoods, the more likely answer is the food supply that is placed on the curb regularly every week.
“Wild animals are in trouble, and the problem is people who are careless with food and garbage,” according to a brochure released by the California Dept. of Fish and Game (Wildlife). “You may not realize it – 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.”
Residents are advised to bring trashcans out only on garbage pick up day and to keep all pet food inside their home.
The sightings of deer are usually a sign that mountain lions are around as well. The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife advises not to feed deer – in fact, it is illegal in California to do so – and to trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions and install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
As neighborhoods move deeper into the wilderness, it is important to learn how to live with wildlife – for both the residents’ safety and the animals’.
For more tips on how to live with wildlife, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild.