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Bear roams Auburn neighborhood

Resident wants neighbors to keep area ‘uninviting’
By: Loryll Nicolaisen Journal Staff Writer
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Andy Brannan got quite the wake-up Sunday morning. The Auburn resident discovered a black bear in the backyard of his Greenfield Avenue home. While there have been previous hints — droppings, to be more specific — of bears on his property, Brannan said this was his first bear sighting since moving to the foothills in the 1970s. Considering a bear sighting within city limits to be of interest, Brannan called the Auburn State Recreation Area ranger station and was advised to call the Department of Fish and Game. With some 30,000 black bears living throughout California, and with dense populations at higher elevations, it’s not completely out of bounds for Auburn residents to spot bears in their neighborhoods, said Kyle Orr, public information officer with the Department of Fish and Game North Central Region, “At this time of the year, bears are definitely out,” Orr said. “They’re foraging.” Brannan said he was surprised to learn that Fish and Game doesn’t relocate bears, but instead depredates — captures and kills — them. “Bears that have developed a taste for leftover meatloaf and cheesecake … they find their way back,” he said Tuesday. Orr said Tuesday that decisions on what to do with a bear are made on a case-by-case basis. “With an interface between a neighborhood and a wilderness area, a situation like that does not necessarily constitute a public safety concern,” he said. “Animals have to exhibit what we call a public safety threat to be depredated.” Orr reiterated what Brannan was told, that relocating bears doesn’t change bad behavior. “The larger issue our department tries to stress is to keep them wild,” he said. The sighting has inspired Brannan to become a bit of a bear advocate. “My thinking is we need to raise some awareness,” he said. “We need to do something to make this area less inviting. We are really on the edge of the canyon and if he keeps finding easy meals along the way, then he’s going to keep coming back.” Orr said bears become a problem when they become habituated and are comfortable around people. The bear Brannan saw Sunday morning ran away when he approached to snap a photo. “If they’re not getting access to people food, they’re not around people, they’re not habituated,” Orr said. “The majority of bear-human encounters are related to them having human food. When people feed bears, whether deliberately or inadvertently, the turnout for the bear is likely bad.” Residents can report bear sightings to the Department of Fish and Game North Central Region at (916) 358-2900. If a bear is causing a public safety issue, call local law enforcement. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment.