A bear cub finds sunflower seeds scattered in the gravel during a nightly foray to a Quincy backyard. Photo courtesy of Judy Dailey

Despite dogs and beefed up fencing, the bears persevere

A beefed-up fence, a newly constructed garbage can enclosure and barking dogs haven’t been enough to deter a family of bears from visiting a Quincy home. The forays occur in the wee hours of the morning and leave Skip and Judy Dailey with a mess to clean up.

It’s no secret that bears are a problem this year. If residents haven’t spied them firsthand, they’ve undoubtedly seen their handiwork on garbage pickup day when  someone puts their trash can out too early.

But what happens when garbage cans are secured behind a fence and within their own enclosure? One would assume, they would be safe especially if barking dogs were involved, but that hasn’t been the Daileys’ experience.

A bear decided this fence wouldn’t keep him/her from an evening meal. Photo by Judy Dailey

Judy Dailey discussed the problem Nov. 22. The issue began about a month ago when a bear pulled boards off the couple’s fence and came into the yard, she explained. The Daileys live in the Bellamy neighborhood between Dellinger’s Pond and Plumas District Hospital.

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All seemed peaceful for a while until last week when a momma and her babies appeared. They usually show up between 1:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. — when the dogs awaken Skip and Judy to the presence of the intruders. Judy said that even with the dogs barking, and her husband yelling and banging on the window, the bears aren’t deterred.

The aftermath of a bear visit despite an enclosure built to keep the bears away from the garbage. Photo by Judy Dailey

They pushed over the garbage cans and on a subsequent trip even ripped apart the enclosure Skip built to prevent further destruction. When there wasn’t garbage, the bears discovered the birdseed. When that mess was cleaned up, they turned up again and Judy saw a little bear pulling sunflower seeds out of the gravel.

The Daileys aren’t alone. “They are going house to house,” she said. “People have seen the bears. We have had a lot of bear poop in our driveway.”  Judy reported that she regularly walks the trail in her neighborhood, which is also littered with the bear scat.

Last summer, the bears plagued their neighbors, but for whatever reason, this year they found the Daileys. While the bears are a nuisance, Judy is more concerned about the mountain lions that have been seen in the neighborhood.

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When asked if she has contacted Fish and Wildlife about the problem, she said that she hadn’t, because she wasn’t sure what would happen to the bears if she did.

According to its bear policy the department’s policy is as follows;
Relocation in this policy is defined as the capture and release of a bear at least 20 air miles from the capture site. Category 1 bears may also be returned to their immediate habitat, which may be less than 20 miles.

  1. Trapping and relocating black bears is an option in unusual situations. Black bears shall only be relocated with the prior approval of the Wildlife Branch Chief or his/her designee.
  2. Only Department personnel are authorized to capture and relocate black bears. Personnel from federal, State and/or local agencies, nongovernment organizations, or the public may not capture and relocate bears unless specific authorization for relocating black bears is contained in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Director of CDFW and the appropriate agency or entity. Any such MOU shall include directions for coordination of all trapping efforts on an incident-byincident basis.
  3. All relocated bears that are chemically immobilized shall be ear tagged in accordance with Section 4190 of the Fish and Game Code. Any bear needing to be chemically immobilized shall be handled in accordance with the WIL’s “Administering Pharmaceuticals to Wildlife” instructions. Special procedures for handling and tagging bears within 14 days prior to or during any bear hunting season are included in those instructions and shall be adhered to prior to the release of any bear during this timeframe. Captured bears being returned to their immediate habitat or bears that are relocated should be tagged when possible. If tagging equipment is not available and immediate release or relocation is necessary, the bear should be marked in some manner for future identification. Any tags recovered from bears taken under permit, or otherwise taken, shall be forwarded to WLB with any permits or other written documentation on the animal.
  4. Prior to trapping a black bear for relocation purposes, a release site shall be approved by the regional manager or his/her designee. Release sites may be predesignated by the regional manager. The appropriate land management agency shall be notified of the release site(s) and the date and time of bear release(s). No bear shall be transported out of the State without the authorization of the Wildlife Branch Chief or his/her designee.

Tips for bear-proofing your home:

  • Do not toss food scraps out into the yard.
  • Purchase and properly use a bear-proof garbage container.
  • Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
  • Do not leave trash, groceries or pet food in your car.
  • Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
  • It is advised to not hang bird feeders in bear country. If you must, only do so during November through March and make them inaccessible to bears. Keep in mind bears are excellent climbers.
  • Do not leave any scented products outside, even non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked when unoccupied.
  • Consider installing motion-detector alarms and/or electric fencing.
  • Bring pets in at night. Provide safe and secure quarters for livestock at night.
  • Consider composting bins as opposed to open composting.
  • Securely block access to potential hibernation sites such as crawl spaces under decks and buildings.
  • Do not spray bear spray around property – when it dries, it can serve as an attractant.
  • Do not feed deer or other wildlife – this will attract bears to your home.
  • Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.
  • If a bear breaks into your home, do not attempt to confront the bear. Give the bear an escape route. If the bear cannot make its way out, go to a safe place and call 911.

If you encounter a bear:

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These are general guidelines based on research by wildlife managers and scientists, intended to help keep you safe in the event of a black bear encounter. Keep in mind that safety tips for the American black bear are not exactly the same as for grizzly bears. California does not have grizzly bears.

  • If a bear breaks into your home, do not confront the bear. Most bears will quickly look for an escape route. Move away to a safe place. Do not block exit points. If the bear does not leave, get to a safe place and call 911.
  • If you encounter a bear in your yard, chances are it will move on if there is nothing for the bear to forage. If there is enough distance between you and the bear, you can encourage the bear to leave by using noisemakers or blowing a whistle.
  • If you encounter a bear while hiking and it does not see you. Back away slowly, increase your distance. Clap hands or make noise so the bear knows you are there and will move on.
  • If you encounter a bear on the trail and it sees you. Do not make eye contact. Slowly back away. Do NOT run. Let the bear know you are not a threat. Give it a way out.
  • If a bear approaches you, make yourself look bigger by lifting and waving arms. Use noisemakers, or yell at the bear. If small children are present, keep them close to you.
  • Carry and know how to use bear spray as a deterrent. In the event of a black bear attack, it is usually recommended to fight back. However, each situation is different. Prevention is the key.
  • Black bear attacks are rare in California and typically are defensive in nature because the bear is surprised or defending cubs; however, bears accustomed to people may become too bold and act aggressively.
  • Female black bears will often send cubs up a tree and leave the area in response to a perceived threat. Do not remain in the area – when you leave, she will come back for her cubs.

The following link also provides some good information on how to deal with bear problems:

https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Education/LivingWithWildlife/BearDeterrents.pdf