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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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October 3, 2018     Feather River Bulletin
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October 3, 2018
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 5B Victoria Metcalf Assistant Editor vmetcalf@plumasnews.com There's a bear in the backyard! Or there's one in the fruit tree, on the porch or in the garbage. These are routine calls that come into the Plumas County SheritTs Office dispatch center. They're also common reports to the Northern Division of the Fish and Wildlife Department, which covers Lassen, Plumas and central Butte counties. There have also been reports of a Quincy man who routinely drives home a pickup load of food for the bears. More bears are arriving in the general neighborhood and crossing the roadway posing a danger to both bears and humans. Lt. Kyle Kroll is all too familiar with bears and the people who report them. In charge of six to seven game wardens in the Northern Area Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kroll has come to know a lot local black bears. About black bears Black bears are only found in North America. They range through much of Canada, and in parts of the interior of Mexico. They're found in California and along the West Coast, in the Rocky Mountains, in a few regions of the Southwest and Southeast, and in parts of Florida and in few other areas. According to Kroll, black bears often are not black. They range in colors from brown, golden, occasionally white, to blue-black and blue-gray. Despite their appearance -- little eyes and rounded ears -- black bears are smart and learn quickly, Kroll said. "They're so istink:mg smart," he said from xperie .nce, they're very adaptable. Their size and ponderous appearance allow people to believe they're slow and clumsy. According to some experts they can run up to 40 mph. Bears have a very keen sense of smell (as much as seven times greater than a dog) and can tell a lot about what's going on by smell, especially when they're looking for food -- which is almost continual. While much of the black bear's diet includes vegetation -- berries, roots and shoots and other things that grow in and around the forest, it includes carrion in its diet. That is food left by other animals and dead animals. Black bears are known locally to kill the occasional fawn to eat, Kroll said. And it will kill chickens, ducks and other fowl if it's tempted. It also eats grubs, insects and loves honey. Black bears have been known to tear apart an entire tree to get at the honey. Black bears will also eat many things it shouldn't, such as trash. Bears' diners Garbage has become a number one non-natural place for bears to find food. Dumps, cans, bins, illegal marijuana cultivation sites in the forests, in short anywhere a bear can find the smell of food to check out becomes a place to dine. "Garbage is the number one food attraction," Kroll said on the topic, and the number one draw to residences and neighborhoods. Most people learn not to set their garbage cans outside the night prior t trash collection. Many have learned to put their can inside the garage or another controlled location where bears won't be tempted. For those who don't have regular garbage service, some learn that keeping trash bags in unsecured places -- like the back of the seldom used pickup -- is a big mess just waiting to happen. According to official logs from the Plumas County Sheriff's dispatch center, unsecured garbage, bears and neighbors don't mix well. While neighbors are known to lose their tempers, it's the bears that lose their lives if they can't be moved to a new location or encouraged not to return to a tempting site. Kroll said game wardens often use a technique called hazing to convince bears to relocate. A haze is a little rubber pellet that makes a loud bang when the hazing gun is fired. Not only does the noise scare the bear, the sharp thump to its rump or haunches is intended to give it a message that it's not wanted in a particular area. Hazing reminds black bears to fear humans, an instinct the bear has obviously lost as it feeds at unnatural or human caused food sources. Wardens try to "nip it in the bud" through education, Kroll said. The Chandler bear Last year when some residents along Quincy's Chandler Road area adopted a young bear it meant a sad ending, according to Kroll. Apparently the bear was motherless too young and residents felt sorry for it. They began leaving food for it usually in the Oakland Camp area and it lost its fear of humans. Eventually the bear was treed for some reason and as passersby watched, it fell out of the tree. Kroll said the bear badly injured its back in the fall and had to be put down. Feeding bears is actually against the law, according to Kroll. It is a misdemeanor arid can be punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Although those circumstances are rare, laws can be upheld. Kroll said they encourage people to pick up their garbage and not store it where it's accessible to bears. They encourage those with chickens, ducks and other farm animals to install hot wire fences. These give bears and other animals a jolt of electricity that discourages them from entering the pen. All about the food whether it's in the wild or in adopted habitats, bears are about food. As fall approaches and hibernation is nearing, they eat up to 20 hours a day, according to the Western Wildlife Outreach specialists. In preparing for their winter sleep, bears try to take on an additional 35 percent body weight. This phase is known as hyperphagia, meaning excessive eating. "Black bears move in response to the seasonal availability of food and have excellent memories, particularly regarding food sources. Bears are able to learn about food types and locations, and reapply that knowledge over time and space -- a sure sign of intelligence," according to Western Wildlife Outreach. Actually, black bears are not true hibernators. Although they might sleep more and become less active in the cold winter months, they're still apt to be out and about, according to information from American Expedition. Male black bears can have a territory of 15 to 80 square-miles, according to "American Black Bear," by National Geographic. But it can be smaller than that if it's getting enough food and remains unchallenged. They tend to pick out an area and mark it with claw See Bears, page 8B iir This young bear, dubbed the Chandler bear, because he was frequently seen along the roadway in Quincy, captivated area residents. While it might seem like a good thing to raise a bear cub, think again, is Lt. Kyle Kroll's cautioning statement. Someone tried that with this cub. It's not legal. The bear had to be rehabilitated to his rightful home in the wild. Photos courtesy California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. Mi ndful Nurturing Parenting Class starting soon! Plumas Rural Scrxqce 8-week Course Includes: Mindful Self-Care , Personality & Birth Order Communicating with Respect & Understanding Feelings Building Self-Worth & Praising Behaviors Brain Development & Trauma Recovery Developing Family Morals, Values, and Expectations Understanding Child Abuse & Alternatives to Spanking Introduction to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Greenville--Thursdays, October 11th--December 6th Call 530-283-3611 to pre-register or visit www.plumasruralservices.org/parenting for more information 4-6pm The Instructor, Leslie Wall, is a Certified Family Teacher, Certified Nurturing Parenting instructorl and a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Facilitator with over 20 years of experience working with individuals and families. Each course is tailored to the unique needs of attendees and includes elements of Mindful Parenting and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. The classes are a confidential, safe place to share challenges and learn from the experiences of others. To ensure confidentiality and open discussions the course is closed to new attendeesafter the first session. A Certificate of Attendance will be issued.