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Four bears making themselves at home in Auburn neighborhood

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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For better or worse, a mother and three cubs are bringing nature closer to residents of an Auburn neighborhood on the lip of the American River Canyon. For some, bears are a part of life in Auburn that wanders into the area every few years and then leaves again. For others, bears are a nuisance and possible danger that needs to be removed from the Auburn experience. Harry Hickman, a long-time high school teacher who has lived in the Aeolia Heights neighborhood next to the Auburn State Recreation Area for 25 years, said he’s had two visits in his backyard in a quarter century. The last one was March 13, when four bears wandered in at about 7:15 a.m. to sample bird seed that had just been put down and get at hanging hummingbird feeders. Hickman said he has concerns over safety but also recognizes that bears are going to be in the vicinity. The possibility of a meal also led the four bears to the garage of Rhea and Doug Stanley. The couple has children aged less than a year and 3 years old. The bears broke the door to gain entrance and eat garbage that had been placed inside. “It was a little eye-opening,” Rhea Stanley said. “We hear people say they should be euthanized but we’d would rather have them relocated to live out their lives. They haven’t attacked anybody, but they are a nuisance and are scary.” Stanley said she’d like to see the county and state parks provide bear-proof garbage receptacles on the edge of the canyon to discourage bear visits. Donna McGloughlin, another Aeolia Heights resident, said that over 20 years, the presence of the bears has increased. “We’ve had no damage because we’ve been careful but we’ve had four bears walking up against our sliding glass doors,” McGloughlin said. “There are too many bears and they’re not cute anymore. They should live somewhere else.”