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Bears sighted in Bowman area of Auburn

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Two bold bear cubs found a source of drinking water on a Bowman-area resident’s deck during the Fourth of July weekend. The cubs wandered into the yard of Jeanette and Norm Yetka, located on the lip of the American River canyon in Bowman. They stepped onto the deck and one spent several seconds slurping water from the drip-stopping saucer of a large flower pot. Yetka managed to snap off a couple of photos of one of the cubs before it took a final lap of water and moved on to a neighbor's yard. Bears aren’t unusual in Yetka’s neck of the woods, which sits near the Auburn State Recreation Area. In fact, California is seeing a resurgence in its bear population, with numbers nearly doubling to an estimated 38,000 over the past 25 years. Yetka said the deck was visited last year by two cubs. She doesn’t believe they are the same ones because they are much smaller. Each weighs about 40 pounds, she said. Yetka said that her husband, Norm, believes that he saw the mother bear on the road above their deck. “We haven’t seen any bears at our house in about five or six months so we were surprised to see two on our deck,” Yetka said. The state Department of Fish and Game issued a warning last week to remind people to take precautions to avoid black bear encounters, particularly in the Tahoe Area. Many bears are not afraid of humans and all are constantly on the prowl for food. Many humans make that food inadvertently obtainable for them, Fish and Game said. “It’s important for everyone to avoid creating odors that attract bears,” said Mark Kenyon, Fish and Game statewide bear program coordinator. Bears are attracted not only to food but also perfume, cologne and containers that once held food. “A bear’s fate is always sealed once it associates humans with food,” Kenyon said. “It’s unfortunate when a bear becomes a threat and has to be killed because people either haven’t learned how to appropriately store food and trash, or simply don’t care.” Bruins have regularly ventured into populated areas on the edge of the American River canyon to break into trash cans. Some of the most popular areas include the Robie Point and Foresthill exit areas. It’s illegal to feed wildlife but sometimes the food isn’t offered – and the bear takes the blame after foraging for a free meal. A year ago in July, wildlife officials shot and killed a bear rummaging through an ice chest near the Union Valley Reservoir, near Lake Tahoe. The camper tried to scare the bear off but it approached and scratched the man’s face. In another incident shortly before that, a cub broke into a man’s house in Tahoma and was scared away. But it came back and the man shot it to death. Western States 100 endurance runners and hikers in the Robie Point area were both blocked on trails in the American River canyon near Auburn by an intimidating mother bear with two cubs in incidents last month.