Bearing up well

Black bear hit by a car last August is found back in SLO



A vagrant black bear found meandering around a San Luis Obispo neighborhood on Nov. 8 is back in the forest. Again.

The first sightings of the 65 lb. bear were reported to police early that afternoon after it was spotted wandering around the 2000 block of Monterey Street.

"He hung out here for awhile and then he moved on," said Axel Walther, desk clerk at the La Cuesta Motor Inn.

Later that evening a resident on Loomis Street reported seeing the young bear, which then proceeded to climb a tree, scramble over some fences, and head up Buena Vista Avenue.

By the time Fish and Game Warden Teri Hickey arrived, the bear was hiding in a corner next to a tree in the backyard of a house on Santa Ynes Avenue.

"I asked the two officers on the scene to back away, because bears will act aggressively if they are cornered," Hickey said.

Then the bear ran into the front yard of another house. Hickey and an officer chased him up a tree where he said the bear would feel safer and authorities could keep an eye on him while they waited for a veterinarian.

After the vet arrived he shot the bear with three tranquilizer darts. When the bear started to get groggy, local biologist Bob Stafford climbed the tree and tied a rope to one of the bear's back ankles.

Ten minutes later, the tranquilized bear was slowly lowered to the ground.

Hickey then hogtied the bear's legs together and
gently placed it in the back of her green Dodge Ram on a camping pad.

"He was almost too used to people," Hickey said. "Not a good thing, because bears will learn to rely on human food sources such as trash cans."

By the time they arrived at High Mountain Road in Pozo, the black bear was starting to come to. As soon as the rope was untied, it jumped from the truck bed and slowly limped away.

"I gave him a little bear lecture," Hickey said. "I told him not to come back again."

The same bear had survived being hit by a car last August on U.S. Highway 101 near the southern base of Cuesta Grade. The stunned bear hobbled away from the accident with a cut on his lip and leg. After receiving stitches in his leg and a tag on his ear, the bear was dropped off on the west side of the Grade.

"Bears that have become accustomed to people can become bold and even aggressive," according to one Fish and Game official. "Although rare, there are dozens of documented cases of people being mauled, and even killed, by black bears."

There are approximately 20,000 black bears in California. They range in color from black to cinnamon and often have white markings on their chests.

Officials recommend that if approached by a black bear, make as much noise as possible and try to appear as large as possible by waving your arms in the air and opening your coat or jacket.

If you are attacked, fight back; with rocks, tree branches, or anything else you can get your hands on.

"Even though they're cute, stay away from the baby bears," Hickey said. "Their mothers may be nearby and even young bears can be dangerous."


Intern Karen Velie can be reached through Managing Editor
King Harris at

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