Bear and its cub relocated to wildlife habilitation center

Credit: CBS2/KCAL9
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A mother bear and its cub, which were spotted roaming Castaic Friday just two days after a similar incident was reported in the area, have been relocated to a wildlife rehabilitation center, according to sheriff’s officials.

The two bears were spotted by residents of the Sierra Oak Trail neighborhood as early as 6 a.m. Friday, when the bears were taking a dip in a pool, rummaging through trash cans and resting in neighborhood trees.

“I walked my dogs this morning and came home — you know, no big deal,” said resident Vince Cioffi. “At about 6:00 (a.m.), my neighbor Andy comes out and their dogs were going crazy on the side of the house. 

I came out to see what was happening and the bears were in the trees less than 50 feet away,” Cioffi said prior to the bear’s relocation. “We walked over to the fence, so we’re probably 15 feet from the cub and the bear,” who were staring calmly.

“Then the baby came down and she got nervous,” according to Cioffi, so the pair of bears stayed on the ground before climbing into a different tree out front of Cioffi’s house, where they’d remain for a couple hours.

“Then our neighbors down below called and the mother was in their backyard trash cans. She said, ‘You have to got to come down and see this,’” so Cioffi said he leaned over his railway, “and sure enough the bear is down there.”

The bear would then take a dip in the pool and swim, but the baby was screaming while it was away from its mother, Cioffi said, echoing the sounds reported by residents Wednesday.

“So mom got out of the water, hopped the fence and climbed the tree again,” Cioffi said. They would then be seen walking the street.

On Wednesday, residents wanted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to relocate the bears because there were children playing close by while the mom and cub were roaming backyards, but Cioffi said the bears weren’t aggressive at all on Friday. 

“There’s plenty of extra food in the garbage cans because trash comes tomorrow, so it’s a free meal for her,” Cioffi said, mentioning the older bear had visited trash cans on other nearby streets the night before. 

Because wildlife is so commonly seen in the area, fish and wildlife officials typically do not find it necessary to remove an animal unless there’s a direct threat, which is why the bears were left alone when spotted in the area earlier in the week; however, fish and wildlife officials changed their minds after some research on Friday, according to Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

“Originally, they weren’t going to respond but — through further investigation — it was discovered the bear was tagged, so they were able to ascertain that the bear has a reputation as a bit of a problem bear who’s been relocated a few different times,” Miller said in an interview Friday. “So, their plan was to relocate the bear and the cub to some sort of wildlife rehabilitation center and they will determine where it will be relocated.”

Miller cited a CBS Los Angeles article from June detailing an incident in Sierra Madre that involved the two Castaic bears and a man and dog who were injured after the canine tried to chase the cub and ran into the protective mother bear. 

“The bears were tranquilized and released in the mountains, but somehow they made their way back to the area,” Miller said, adding, “It’s all been taken care of now.”

Cioffi still felt it necessary to remind residents to keep a watchful eye because he’s seen other wildlife living in the area.

“We chose to live here and it’s their habitat,” Cioffi said. “It’s great because you never know what you’ll see here, but at the same time, you must be more cautious when you’re aware they’re in the area.”

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