A California black
bear, Ursus americanus, has been reported to be
making the rounds in and around Gualala in recent weeks, and
on Monday, surprised residents spotted the large critter on
their own deck behind their house.
Gualala Point Park
Ranger Donna DeBaets said a camper was awakened last week at
the park campground on the south side of the Gualala River
by the rustling of a large animal in the bushes, along with
a loud sniffing near his tent, in which he had food stored.
The startled camper did not see the animal, however.
On Monday night this
week, under the full moon, Jack and Mary O'Leary looked out
their back window on Pacific View Drive (off Big Gulch) to
see what he described as a "really big bear" on their
The animal's movement
activated the deck lights, and after looking around a bit,
the bear gracefully leaped over a waist-high railing "like
it was nothing!" and disappeared into the darkness.
DeBaets said parks
staff had seen occasional evidence of the bear for months.
Three months ago, a park aide spotted a bear crossing the
Gualala River to the Sonoma County side. Bear scat was
discovered two months ago in the front yard of the Ranger
residence in the park, and again a month ago in a walk-in
campsite at the park.
Park staff reminded
visitors about safe behavior in the habitat we share with
---Double-bag garbage to help eliminate odors;
---Keep barbecue grills clean;
---Put away pet food when you're away and at night;
---Never keep food in your tent;
---Store food and toiletries in bear-proof containers or in
airtight containers in your vehicle trunk;
---Use bear-proof garbage cans or store your garbage in a
secure location with your food.
The Department of Fish
and Game gives this advice: If you encounter a bear,
never approach it. Give it plenty of room to pass.
Most bears will avoid confrontation if possible. Do
not run from a bear; stand and face the animal, making eye
contact without staring. Pick up small children and
pets to keep them from running.
If approached by the
bear, make yourself appear as large as possible by standing
up, raising your arms, and opening your jacket. Yell
at the bear, bang pots and pans, and create a loud
To report an aggressive
bear, call the California Department of Fish and Game
24-hour dispatch at (916) 445-0045.
*Independent Coast Observer (ICO),
May 27, 2005.