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Idyllwild folks learning about living with bears

By in Press Enterprise on July 30, 2017

By Craig Shultz

Bears are cute and cuddly — when they’re on TV or stuffed on a toddler’s bed.

The real things? Not so much.

But people shouldn’t have to worry about encountering a bear if they take precautions, Kevin Brennan, an Idyllwild-based wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told a gathering of 60 people at the Idyllwild Library on Thursday, July 27.

Such a gathering would be usual in places like Banning, Oak Glen, Forest Falls and any of the other communities in and around the San Bernardino Mountains where bears have been a co-habitant for decades.

Sightings are far more rare in the San Jacinto Mountains. Yet the meeting was not far from where a bear that was spotted in May could still be wandering. The animal is nicknamed the “Rite Aid” bear because it’s believed to be the same one seen earlier that month near a Banning drug store.

That bear and a number of others seen in the region this year are not looking for human prey, they are looking for something to eat, Brennan said.

“Just because you have a home doesn’t mean a bear is going to crash into it,” he said. “Bears aren’t out lying in wait.”

Wildlife biologist Kevin Brennan speaks to a large crowd during the “Living With Bears” workshop Thursday, July 27, in Idyllwild.

But he warned to make sure to keep outdoor areas free of food or food debris, sharing the acronym Bears Eat Anything Really Smelly. He said the best way to avoid bears is prevention.

“Never leave food where a bear can get it,” Brennan said. “Once they find it, they’re going to keep coming back. Bear problems usually don’t become serious until they start getting handouts from people.”

Brennan said there aren’t any good outcomes from habituated bears. They may destroy property […]    

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