The number of bears sightings, break-ins and close encounters is growing in a Sierra Madre community, leaving residents on edge.
Locals and city officials said bear attacks are becoming too common and they’re concerned it’s only a matter of time before an encounter turns deadly.
City leaders said they’re trying to create a plan that will make residents feel safer while also protecting the wild bears.
Video from recent encounters shows bears of all sizes being spotted, with some clawing their way inside a kitchen or taking a dip in a backyard pool.
“It’s more than a nuisance,” Glenn Lambdin, Former Sierre Madre mayor. “And it has already gone into the danger zones. I think we’re sitting on a time bomb that’s going to explode and we don’t know when.”
Lambdin experienced two close encounters himself after bears broke into his home last year.
The city council is considering a resolution to get the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to enhance its policies to better manage the black bear population along the foothill communities. But some are questioning whether those policies are enough.
“Sierra Madre has had four attacks on humans since 2016,” said Lambdin. “It’s the highest concentration of attacks anywhere in the state of California.”
A recent attack left one homeowner and his dog injured after a mother bear was defending her cub. Fish and wildlife crews were forced to use a tranquilizer to subdue the animals.
“Unfortunately there have been attacks in the city of Sierra Madre,” said Rebecca Barboza, a fish and wildlife biologist.
Barboza said most of the attacks are food-related, involving humans who are feeding the bears. To solve the growing issue, she said humans must learn to better co-exist with bears.
“Eradicating the bear population is not a feasible endeavor,” said Barboza. “If you remove bears from the equation, then they’re just going to fill in from all the other communities that have bears as well as forests because bears see our urban areas as prime habitat.”
“You can imagine the impact when these bears are coming into our homes, into our schools and it’s only a matter of time until our children are possibly mauled,” said Lambdin.
Councilmembers said they aim to put pressure on fish and wildlife officials as well as state lawmakers for action to reduce the bear population.