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Bear sighted near Saugus pool

Bruin spotted on Park Woodland Drive

Posted: June 17, 2008 1:36 a.m.
Updated: August 18, 2008 5:01 a.m.

As the mercury continues to rise throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, local residents and their pets are looking for ways to cool down. Apparently, the local wildlife is also searching for ways to avoid the heat.

After several people in the Saugus area reported bear sightings Friday in a local wash, that same bear allegedly returned on Father's Day when Cindy Morris told The Signal on Monday that the bruin struggled in her backyard pool on Park Woodland Drive.

It was the fourth sighting of what may be the same bear. Previous reports had the bear spotted on Placerview Trail, North High Ridge Drive and Kathleen Avenue in Saugus. Park Woodland Drive is less than one-quarter mile away from each of those streets.

Morris said the bear came into her Park Woodland backyard shortly after 3:45 a.m. Sunday. She awoke as she heard the bear grunt and struggle to walk across her pool cover. Surrounding the pool was a five-foot wrought iron fence, which the bear climbed over before escaping into the hillside canyon abutting Morris' backyard.

By the time Morris got out of bed to inspect her backyard and pool, the bear was already gone. She initially thought it was a mountain lion, but when daylight broke and Morris went outside, she noticed a trail of bear paw prints on the pool and jacuzzi covers.

"I first thought it was a mountain lion," Morris said. "It was making loud grunting sounds as it tried to walk over my pool cover."

Morris reported the bear incident to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, and deputies returned to the area to maintain a lookout for the bear in order to maintain public safety.

Sunday's incident occurred on the heels of three previous bear sightings in the same area on Friday.

Deputies from the Sheriff's Station responded to two calls in Saugus Friday morning, yet when they arrived, residents informed them that the bear had headed back into the hills. Later that evening, deputies received another call of a bear sighting near Kathleen Avenue and Copper Hill Drive in Saugus. When deputies responded to that call, they found a bear in the backyard of a home.

With the assistance of field representatives from the Department of Fish and Game, the deputies were able to chase the bear out of the backyard. They contained and tracked the bear near the neighborhoods for more than two hours, before eventually chasing and coaxing it back into the mountains.

Food is a major reason why bears invade human space, due to easy access of garbage containers that have food waste, according to the Department of Fish and Game.

"Problems begin when bears learn to associate an easy food supply with humans and developed areas," Doug Updike, Dept. of Fish and Game's state-wide bear program coordinator said in a statement. "Once this happens the bear becomes habituated or conditioned to go after human food because it's easy. If people don't change their ways, the bear won't either."

According to recent Fish and Game estimates, there are between 25,000 and 35,000 bears throughout the state. Many of those bears are not in the Santa Clarita Valley, though some do exist in the area - as indicated by events that transpired during Father's Day weekend.

Since 1980, Fish and Game has recorded 12 bear-related attacks, including two each in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and one in Kern County's Piute Mountains.

Deputies urged residents throughout the Santa Clarita Valley to keep an eye out for bears and immediately report sightings to the Sheriff's Station by calling (661) 255-1121.


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