Monday, November 9, 2015

A California black bear roams in Three Rivers, Calif.
(Photo: AP/Brian
Melley)By Brian MelleyTourists and animal lovers hoping to see a bear in
Sequoia National Park this fall probably stand a better chance of spotting one
in this tiny town at the park"s entrance.Three Rivers is literally crawling
with hungry bears driven down from the mountains by drought in search of food
to fatten up for winter.
Everyone seems to have photos of the creatures on
their phones or anecdotes of encounters.Chas Haws" eyes bugged out as he
recalled his surprise coming face to face with a bear before dawn as he walked
to Antoinette"s Coffee and Goodies shop along the main road one day.Related:
Polar Bears Are Now Eating Dolphins Thanks to Global WarmingHe carefully
stepped back as the bear reared up and then walked away."He didn"t care about
me at all," Haws said.
"I didn"t smell like a muffin — yet."There"s no
doubt a bear invasion is afoot in this town of 2,200 that is home to an
eclectic mix of park employees, cattle ranchers, hippies, yuppies and
artists.
It is also a retreat for Hollywood types that include Anjelica Huston
and William Shatner.Most seem delighted by the visiting black bears - many
brown and cinnamon in color - lumbering through grasslands, trotting across
roads or wading through rivers.The four-year drought has shriveled the berry
crop in the Sierra Nevada and led oaks on parched hillsides to produce fewer
acorns, forcing the bears into the valleys carved by the branches of the
Kaweah River that give this town its name.Water is plentiful and acorns carpet
the ground.Gregory Lockhart had seen one bear in 27 years until this
season.
Now they"re fixtures on the golf course out his back door and have
been spotted by the pool of a guest house."The park is upon us now," he
said.Related: Heartbreaking Photo Shows Devastation of Australian WildlifeOne
resident suggested on a town Facebook forum that people with guests seeking
bears not bother winding up the road to the park.
Others chimed in with
suggestions of where to find them.A crowd formed recently outside the River
View restaurant to gawk at a bear up a tree.Bears have climbed on roofs for
acorns and one was found exploring a bathroom under renovation in a house.
A
bear tore apart the outer walls of a resident"s pump house and a music studio
to get at acorns a woodpecker had stowed in the siding.Quiet nights are
interrupted by air horns, banging on pots or a gunshot to scare off creatures
known to forage 20 hours a day as they prepare for long winter naps.
But some
wonder if those shots are innocent.Jeff Beck heard dogs barking in the middle
of the night followed by gunfire."People are shooting the bears, there"s no
doubt," he said.The Kaweah Commonwealth reported that bears have been
illegally slaughtered, but game wardens dismissed it as far-fetched because of
a lack of evidence, such as names of suspects, vehicle descriptions or dead
bears, Lt.
Doug Barnhart said.The account, however, has sown conflict between
nature lovers and those who think it"s a tall tale."I"m upset and sad, and I
just question, ‘Why?"" said Kathleen McCleary, who noted a sense of
outrage in some circles.
"I don"t see any reason to be shooting them."Darrell
Fleeman was so disgusted with the story that he yanked his auto repair shop ad
from the newspaper."Where"s the proof?" he said.
"If that were the case,
there"d be dead bears everywhere."State game wardens haven"t had as many
complaints in this area of central California as last season, when bears made
it to the San Joaquin Valley cities of Visalia, Porterville and Bakersfield,
Barnhart said.Residents have legally killed bears that broke into cabins and
cars in Springville and Camp Nelson, about 25 miles south.In Three Rivers,
bears have knocked over plenty of garbage cans and raided fruit trees and
grape vines.They did a number on the apple orchard at Shatner"s Belle Reve
ranch, said caretaker Sal Natoli, who added that he got a depredation permit
to kill the culprits but didn"t use it during the two-week period it was
valid.The trees look "just like Venus de Milo," the armless ancient Greek
statue, Natoli said.Bear hunting season runs until Dec.
27 or when a statewide
limit of 1,700 bears is killed.
The state hasn"t come close to that figure
since dogs were outlawed in the hunt in 2013.Gunfire may not be the biggest
challenge for the bears at this point.If they don"t pack on enough pounds,
they won"t return to the mountains to den for the winter, said David Graber,
former chief scientist for the National Park Service for the West Coast and a
longtime Three Rivers resident."If they don"t hibernate, they"re going to
die," Graber said.
"That"s a rare, uncommon event."WATCH: Everything in
Australia Wants to Kill YouLet World traveling club Travel inspire you every
day.
"Watch World traveling club Travel"s original series "A Broad Abroad."
A
California black bear roams in Three Rivers, Calif.
(Photo: AP/Brian Melley)
By Brian Melley Tourists and animal lovers hoping to see a bear in Sequoia
National Park this fall probably stand a better chance of spotting one in this
tiny town at the park's entrance.
Chas Haws' eyes bugged out as he
recalled his surprise coming face to face with a bear before dawn as he walked
to Antoinette's Coffee and Goodies shop along the main road one
day.
Related: Polar Bears Are Now Eating Dolphins Thanks to Global Warming He
carefully stepped back as the bear reared up and then walked away.
It is also
a retreat for Hollywood types that include Anjelica Huston and William
Shatner..Gunfire may not be the biggest challenge for the bears at this
point.If they don"t pack on enough pounds, they won"t return to the mountains
to den for the winter, said David Graber, former chief scientist for the
National Park Service for the West Coast and a longtime Three Rivers
resident."If they don"t hibernate, they"re going to die," Graber said.
"That"s
a rare, uncommon event."WATCH: Everything in Australia Wants to Kill YouLet
World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
"Watch World traveling club Travel"s original series "A Broad Abroad."
A
California black bear roams in Three Rivers, Calif.
(Photo: AP/Brian Melley)
By Brian Melley Tourists and animal lovers hoping to see a bear in Sequoia
National Park this fall probably stand a better chance of spotting one in this
tiny town at the park's entrance.
Chas Haws' eyes bugged out as he
recalled his surprise coming face to face with a bear before dawn as he walked
to Antoinette's Coffee and Goodies shop along the main road one
day.
Related: Polar Bears Are Now Eating Dolphins Thanks to Global Warming He
carefully stepped back as the bear reared up and then walked away.
It is also
a retreat for Hollywood types that include Anjelica Huston and William
Shatner.

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