While the knowledge of bears surrounding the Los Angeles area may not be entirely new, given the terrain of the City of Angels, the sight of a large bear’s snout peering around your kitchen door in search of food or rummaging in the garbage can in your driveway can be quite startling. Los Angeles bears are known to waltz into residential areas, grazing and displaying the comfort they have among the city’s residents; however, LA officials are experiencing another uptick in reports of bear sightings that have propelled officials to develop a plan on how to keep everybody (and bear) safe.

While much of LA’s surrounding areas are protected from development due to their steep terrains, the wilderness living throughout the region does not find itself battling the same issue of expansion. In recent years, the number of LA bear sightings has continued to rise, as well as reports of sightings of mountain lions, deer, and coyotes. Yet, it is the bears that feel most comfortable sharing the area with humans.

In Sierra Madre, Mary’s Market Café Co-Owner Jenny Kay stated that bears are, “Incredibly comfortable around people, they’ve been born here now at this point this is their neighborhood too and they don’t feel threatened by us, and we’re pretty reliable food source and water,” further sharing that the wildlife is known to visit her restaurant several times a week, sometimes snatching an unattended sandwich for a snack. 

As just one of the towns that have seen a big upswing in bear sightings within the last month, Sierra Madre has had nearly 100 reports of bear sightings recently. A town resident, Debbie Taylor, who has lived in the area for 13 years, shared, “This week I saw them three times and it was late at night.” Taylor commented that she is not afraid of the bears but still practices caution since they are wild animals.

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Last week, Sierra Madre homeowner, Jason Wightman, was washing dishes in the evening when he caught sight of a curious black bear in his home. Both frightened at the other’s sight, Wightman and the bear each retreated from one another before Wightman returned for his phone and began videoing the event. While immediately backing away at the sight of the homeowner, the bear stuck around and poked its head back inside in search of food.

While most of the area’s bears will leave the neighborhood on their own if they are unable to find food, these animals can still cause serious damage to homes and cars on their quest—leading city officials to develop a plan to address the increase in bear sightings. 

“This is not healthy for them to eat here, they need to learn to use their own natural resources and not using us as their feeding sources and that takes a whole neighborhood,” said Sierra Madre City Council Member Kris Lowe.

Hoping to help keep all parties safe, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a plan last Tuesday to provide funding for specialists with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a management plan that will help wildlife and humans coexist safely.