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Bear that captivated Southern California neighborhood killed by driver

By Vivian ChowShelby Nelson,


Crowds of residents near San Bernardino gathered to watch as a bear led officials on a chase through town Thursday night before it was tragically killed by a driver.

The female bear was first spotted in a tree at Mary and Darby Streets in Muscoy, an area north of San Bernardino.

News of the chase reached local residents, bringing out large crowds of bystanders hoping to catch a glimpse of the bear.

“It was just a really crazy day,” said Briseida Perez, a Muscoy resident.

The bear is between three and four years old, weighs between 250 and 300 pounds and is originally from Sierra Madre, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

After posting up in a tree in Muscoy Thursday morning around 7:30 a.m., she stayed there nearly all day.


Kevin Howells and his counterparts with the Department of Fish and Wildlife stayed on the scene, hoping to safely tranquilize her. But the move was deemed too risky as tranquilizing her from such great heights could cause her to fall down and injure herself.

“After the dart had gone in, we could lose her in the dark and that’s just not a risk we’re willing to take at that time,” said Kevin Howells with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

So instead, officials decided to wait it out and let her come down on her own. Little did they know, the standoff would last from morning well into nightfall.

Just before 7 p.m., the bear eventually got down from the tree and began running through the streets. At one point, she was seen scaling fences and jogging through residential neighborhoods.

“I guess she jumped the fence and people are obviously on the move trying to follow her and she got scared and then she jumped the fence again to come into the street and people were just running,” Perez recalled.

Perez lives just across the street from where the standoff took place. She said more than 100 people had gathered to watch the bear at the intersection that night.

“Anytime they’re around an animal in an area like that where it doesn’t know where it is, it contributes to its stress and the large amounts of people and noise,” Howells explained.

Video shows the bear running through nearby properties Thursday night and not long after, officials said she was killed after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the 210 Freeway.

Despite living in a high-stress environment, the bear had become habituated to roaming urban areas and traveling long distances, officials said.

She originates from the foothills near Sierra Madre and had been caught and relocated to the San Gabriel Mountains above San Dimas. On Sunday, she was spotted in Rancho Cucamonga and captured and relocated again. But she continued down east and eventually made her way into Muscoy.

“I do think some people do not realize, just because you’re not in the mountains, just because you’re not up in the San Bernardinos or the San Gabriels, doesn’t mean you’re not in bear habitat,” Howells said. “You are.”

With so much wildlife around, it provides higher chances of the two habitats colliding. As animals will always be searching for food and water, neither humans nor bears are going anywhere anytime soon. They can, however, learn to peacefully coexist.

“The key for coexistence moving forward is for homeowners and residents in these foothill communities to be extremely diligent about securing any attractants or removing any scent that may bring a bear onto your property,” Howells advised.

Wildlife officials also want the public to stay indoors when a wildlife encounter happens in their community. Having large crowds around could spook the animals while making the task harder for wildlife officials to capture them.

The National Park Service has a list of tips to stay safe when encountering bears.

Some tips include talking calmly to the bear so it knows you’re human and not prey, getting as big as possible, and remaining calm. You should never run from a bear or allow the bear to eat your food and never try to escape by climbing up a tree.

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