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Beware of bears when visiting Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument – Visitors to Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument often enjoy wildlife sightings: squirrels, birds, deer, and sometimes even a black bear. Unfortunately, encounters with bears are not always good, especially when there’s food involved.

In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in the number of human and bear encounters when bears have behaved badly. Instances of bears bluff-charging people, damaging tents, stealing backpacks, breaking into vehicles, and showing no fear of humans are a problem.

“We suspect that drought and large wildfires may have led to a temporary shortage of food for bears in the Western Divide Ranger District east of Porterville,” stated District Wildlife Biologist Nancy Kelly. “Efforts to relocate misbehaving bears have been unsuccessful; they often return or generate problems elsewhere. Our focus must be on the human side of the encounter, and if humans take away the opportunity for a bear to misbehave, everyone wins.”

People can help by doing the following when camping in their local Forest:

Use bear lockers if available, store food (including pet food) and toiletries in bear-proof containers or an airtight container out of sight in the trunk of your vehicle, clean dishes and store food and garbage immediately after meals and never keep food or toiletries in your tent.

Bear attacks are extremely rare in California, but they have occurred. No single safety strategy applies to every encounter, and bear behavior is not always predictable. Prevention is better than confrontation; please be bear aware when visiting the Forest.

For more info: www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/bears

To report human-bear conflicts: In CA, contact the CDFW at 916-358-2917, or call the local sheriff or 911.