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[pct-l] Bear(s) in the Lagunas

The following article was published today in the San Diego Union Tribune 


Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is adjacent to Mt Laguna Recration area (just
west) and William Heise Regional Park (in Julian) is just north, so if
there is a roaming bear in those places, it can easily wander on to the
PCT. The article says the rangers suspect it is muliple sighting of one
bear. At least there is little recreation development along the PCT
(compared with the areas around it) to draw the attention of bears.


Rangers tell public how to deal with  bears

It's best to keep food stored, garbage secure

By Kristen Green   STAFF WRITER 

August 25, 1999 

  JULIAN -- In his 14 years as a park ranger in San Diego County, David
Holt has  heard plenty of stories about campers' run-ins with wild animals.

There have been the friendly, frequent visits from raccoons rustling
through the  campgrounds in search of snacks. Rattlesnakes have shown up
near a pitched  tent or two, sending shivers through campers. And mountain
lions occasionally  have emerged from the deep wilderness.

But black bears? In San Diego County?

"Bears," he said, grinning. "I just never would have expected it."

In a part of the country where the chance of running into a bear has been
as  likely as getting caught in a snowstorm in Pacific Beach, park staffers
have had  to change the way they think about bears after several recent

"A bear is new for us," said Bob Downer, chief of county park services.

Black bears are not believed ever to have inhabited San Diego County. But
sightings have been reported recently on Palomar Mountain, Volcan Mountain
and in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

And since July, there have been similar reports in William Heise Regional
Park,  where Holt works. Park officials suspect the sightings may be the
same bear,  described as 200 to 250 pounds.

On weekdays, the rangers tell campers how to keep bears at bay. They
suggest  frequent visits to Dumpsters to get rid of food remnants and
leaving food-filled  coolers in the trunk of the car.

On weekends, if the rangers are too busy to talk individually to campers,
they  hand out pamphlets on how to store food and get rid of garbage.

Old Dumpsters have been replaced with bear-proofed containers and there
have  been proposals to install boxes where campers can store food.

Holt reminds campers the bear doesn't want to hurt them: It's looking for

In the first sighting in July, a bear was seen sitting at a picnic table
munching on  Doritos in the dead of night.

At midday yesterday, a bear was spotted sitting on top of a Dumpster eating
from a box of doughnuts. Holt evacuated several campsites and did not let
campers return until he was sure the animal had left the area.

Sharon Gervais, a Ramona woman camping with her three kids, said she wasn't
worried about the threat of a bear. She knows to clean up after meals and
to  keep food in the trunk of her car.

"The bees bother me far more than the bears do," she said.

But not everyone has taken the news as well. One camper left the park
after  being told about the bear sighting. The park refunded his money.

At nearby Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, where there has been one bear
sighting, park staffers haven't begun to talk to people about locking up
their food.

"It hasn't become a concern of that level," said ranger Martha Black. "If
they're  getting by eating food in the woods, there's not really a problem
with them being  there."

On Palomar Mountain, park aide Sue Stiver said she's not sure what all the
fuss  is about. Raccoons are still the primary scavenger in the state park
where she  works.

"There's nothing we would warn people about," she said. "If we were in an
area  such as Yosemite, there would be different protocols, but we don't
have that  problem here. At this time, there is no concern." 

Copyright 1999 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. 

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