Bears break into Sierra Madre homes in search of food after hibernation

Sierra Madre residents are catching bears scrounging for food in their homes, cars and porches as many of them emerge from their hibernations.

The hungry animals have been seen breaking into homes, munching on someone’s chicken, boldly chewing up car seats and even sipping some tea off of a homeowner’s back porch.

“There’s no boundaries,” said resident Catherine Adde. “They don’t recognize boundaries.”

Adde and her fellow Sierra Madre citizens have been gathering for “bear meetings” to brainstorm ideas on how to keep the foraging animals from the San Gabriel Mountains off their property and within their boundaries.

“If we can thwart them at their attempts to find food, then they’re gonna go away,” said resident Duabe Sanes.

The issue of wandering bears prompted city leaders to consider a resolution urging the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to create and enhance policies to create a more sustainable black bear population in the San Gabriel Valley. Management analyst James Carlson said the city received 130 calls about bears last year, an increase of about 20% from 2021. Compared to the 1980s and 1990s, the number of bears spotted has grown exponentially in the past decades.

“The concern has risen quite dramatically in recent years,” said Carlson. “The bears also appear to be getting a little bolder for the first time.”

Resident John Wiedemen, who was clawed by a bear during a 2019 camping trip, suggested hunting the black bears.

“Make a policy that would eliminate the entire urbanized bear population in our foothill communities,” said former Sierra Madre Mayor Glenn Lambdin.

Lambdin added that he’s had a terrifying encounter two bears that wandered into his home. He said the city’s three square miles have had more bear encounters and attacks than any other area in the state, including bears wandering into school campuses.

“It’s only a matter of time until one of these children gets mauled, probably at lunchtime when they want food,” said Lambdin.

The city suggested one solution to encourage more bear hazing, which involves scaring them off with bells and horns. They’re also rolling out bear-resistant trash cans.