Nature center gives presentation on urban bears

Natural areas administrator Kim Bosell talks with Frank Hoffman, recreation services supervisor at Placerity Canyon nature Center following her presentation about black bears in urban areas. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

While bears have learned to live alongside humans, visitors to the Placerita Canyon Nature Center learned about what that coexistence entails and how people can deescalate problems in a presentation on Sunday.

Kim Bosell, natural areas administrator with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, explained need-to-know information about black bears and their habits in the wild to a few dozen guests. But as neighborhoods and homes begin to pop up in black bear environments, she stressed on what people should do when they encounter one on their property.

“It depends on what the bear’s doing,” Bosell said. “Typically, we should always try to scare the bear out of the area so he has that negative influence coming into urban environments. When people just go into their house and shut the door, they’re basically telling the bear he can have the territory. The bears are learning that behavior, they’re like, ‘People always run away so I can just do whatever I want.’ So we really need to stand up and scare them out of the area.”

She detailed what a black bear’s body language says about its actions, while also showcasing bears’ habits to search through a vehicle, damage a kitchen or even stomp on a bear-resistant trash can all just to find food. Bears also love backyard hot tubs, Bosell said, which cleans bears from microbes and dirt from their fur and skin, but leaves the hot tubs filthy.

An estimated number of 30,000 to 40,000 black bears live in the state of California, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As the line between bear territory and human territory blurs, Bosell also said media coverage on bear sightings should remain informative and not overreact when a sighting occurs.

“(Bears) don’t know anything else, these are third generation, fourth generation bears, they’ve grown up and learned everything in an urban environment,” she said. “So it’s really important for people to defend their territory and make it super uncomfortable for the bear to be there. Don’t give them carte blanche to eat from fruit trees or trash.”

For more information about black bears, contact Bosell at (626) 398-5420 or email her at [email protected]

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