San Bernardino National Forest, CA, July 22, 2013 – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding residents across the state to be bear aware. Bears are more commonly found in residential areas toward the end of summer or right before hibernation in the fall months. But a healthy bear population and a dry winter and spring may be attracting bears to urban environments earlier than normal. Over the last few months, bears have been observed in  residential areas, including areas where they have not been present for many decades.

CDFW’s state bear program coordinator, Marc Kenyon, encourages residents to be extra diligent securing their trash and bear-proofing their homes, saying, “We want Californians to enjoy bears. However, we don’t want bears to become reliant on food intentionally or otherwise provided by people.”

The black bear is the only species in California, and there are about 30,000 of them in the state.

CDFW recommends the following safeguards for businesses and homeowners:

  • Purchase and properly use a bear-proof garbage container.
  • Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
  • Don’t leave trash, groceries, or animal feed in your car.
  • Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
  • Don’t leave any scented products outside — even non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked.
  • Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.