Wildlife biologist talks bear facts at library

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Friday, July 7, a bear visited the James Reserve at the main lodge. The window was open and the screen was on in the unoccuppied lodge. The bear ripped the screen and crawled in. It ripped open an orange plastic container and ate the sugar packets within, and also a full bag of sugar. After making quite a mess on the floor, the bear left but not before disturbing a trash can outside. Workers were able to identify it was a bear because it left footprints on the mattresses downstairs. Photo by Andrea Campanella

Kevin Brennan, California Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist, knows this mountain and its wildlife. Black bears are relatively rare in the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa ranges after the construction of Interstate 10.

But now there is not just one, but two — the Rite Aid male bear who migrated to Idyllwild from Banning and the Indio female who was relocated to the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Some residents, perhaps also recently relocated here, are concerned there is a bear about. What is the proper bear etiquette — what should one do and not do? And more importantly, is the bear dangerous and should we be afraid?

Brennan will talk about the black-bear history in these mountains, where they ranged for many years, their socialization, their habits and proper bear etiquette should you encounter one in your vicinity.

Since adopting Idyllwild as his home, the Rite Aid bear has recently favored Fern Valley, Cedar Glen, the Nature Center area and as far as the James Reserve, where he searched for and secured some sugar supplies. He has been photographed and videoed in his local travels.

Brennan will speak at the Idyllwild Library from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, July 27. His talk, “Living with Bears,” is based on his experience as a wildlife biologist. We and they — the bears, mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, deer and coyotes — are here together and need to find ways to comfortably, respectfully and safely live together.

There is no charge to attend Brennan’s talk and Q&A at the Idyllwild Library Community Room, and gives residents, especially new residents, information that may be helpful.

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