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City residents frustrated over unwelcome furry friends

Relocating wildlife does not work, spokeswoman says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Residents on an Auburn city street have concerns about some recent neighborhood visitors. Auburnites on Oak View Terrace off Auburn Folsom Road have seen or witnessed the after effects of a mother bear and her two cubs. Bear woes John Murphy said he first saw the bears at 11 p.m. a couple weeks ago in his backyard. “The very first time we saw them … they were right at the corner of the pool eating the garbage,” Murphy said. “(After that) I just got a peak at one of (the cubs) in the morning before they left, and I have been telling everybody now they look like they weigh 150 pounds.” Murphy’s home, as well as several others on the street, back up to the land slated for the Baltimore Ravine development. “The problem I see is (the California Department of) Fish and Game refuses to come pick them up and take them back to the mountains,” Murphy said. Dana Michaels, spokeswoman for Fish and Game, said the department does not move wildlife. “We don’t relocate wildlife,” Michaels said. “It doesn’t work. For one thing, you are just moving the problem to someone else’s neighborhood, and that is not right. And it can create conflicts between the wildlife you are moving and the wildlife that are already living in the place you are moving them to. And some animals will fight to the death over that territory.” Bear tales Murphy said he finds some humor in the situation because it’s often said that people have taken over wildlife habitats. “It’s like the bears are coming back and want their land back inside the city limits,” he said. “Of course they make a terrible mess of everything. That is the main thing I have against it.” Murphy said he heard one story of a bear in a Foresthill neighborhood arriving at 5 a.m. when a garbage can went out, and that the garbage man didn’t arrive until 6 a.m. “He was a smart bear,” Murphy said. Murphy said the bears are bringing neighbors’ garbage bags into his yard and he is learning a lot about his neighbors through the scattered trash. Murphy said he has heard in certain areas bears won’t hibernate because they are finding a constant source of food. “That’s true,” Michaels said. “(It can also happen) if the weather doesn’t get really cold either. There have been bears around Tahoe ... they weren’t hibernating the normal length of time because they could easily get food Dumpster diving.” Other sightings Oak View Terrace resident Andy Helms said he has seen the bears. “I saw them one time on Monday night at 8 o’clock ... two weeks ago,” Helms said. “They were actually in the street. They just came from the business park and they were headed across Del Valle Drive. When they saw my vehicle they went to the side and proceeded to climb over a low spot on a fence in between two houses. My fence was torn down (the following) Saturday morning and my wife said she woke up at about 5 o’clock to hear the crash.” Helms said his garbage was spilled all over the ground and there were claw marks in the fence’s gate where it was torn down. Helms said his concern is for the children who play in the neighborhood at night and the residents who walk their dogs. Oak View resident Cecilia Dalton said she thinks it’s unreasonable to let the bears wander through the neighborhoods because she fears people could start losing pets and garages could be broken into during the search for food. “It’s pretty scary really,” Dalton said. “We are not really on the outskirts of the city. The buildings here have been here 30 years. We used to live up in Georgetown where it’s really wild and we expected bears up there, but certainly not in Auburn.” Oak View resident Tom McCloskey said he has seen the bears in his backyard twice. “I take my garbage out at 5 in the morning, and you don’t know if they are there or not, and it’s obviously a danger,” McCloskey said. “But I think the more serious thing is the mother teaching the two cubs that this is where they get food, and it’s just going to multiply.” What to do about the furry visitors Michaels said the best thing residents can do to keep bears away is to put their garbage in bear-proof cans and not feed pets outside. Michaels said she also recommends bringing small pets indoors, especially at night. Those who go for walks in neighborhoods should try not to wear perfumes or colognes, because these can also attract bears. When walking through a neighborhood where there might be bears, it’s also good not to do so quietly, Michaels said. “Make noise when you are walking,” she said. “Talk, don’t be silent, because then you are likely to surprise an animal. If you don’t surprise them, if they hear you coming, chances are they will move away.” Auburn resident Julie Joiner, who lives in the Auburn Woods condominium complex on Lincoln Way, said she recently started seeing bears on her property again after not seeing them since July. Joiner said she believes it’s the same family. “I’m sure they have got to be the same ones,” Joiner said. “It was the two cubs at first, and then all of a sudden right through my pond in my backyard here comes the mama swimming up, and she climbed into a tree.” Joiner said her neighbor saw the mother bear feed her cubs a fish from the pond. ‘It’s ridiculous’ Joiner said she worries about her grandchildren playing in her backyard and walking to the school bus. She said her neighbors have expressed fears about walking their kids outside in the morning. “It’s ridiculous,” she said. “Something has got to be done.” Michaels said she thinks residents need to be flexible when it comes to living in bear country. “If you are going to be living in bear habitat, you have got to be willing to share space and put up with them, because they were here first,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Information about how to stay safe around bears Visit the California Department of Fish and Game Keep Me Wild website at dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild