Group educates public on bears in Los Padres National Forest

The drought is forcing California's black bears into populated areas to look for food, and that has led to several close encounters for homeowners living in the Kern County Mountains.

Several people have caught bears on camera near their homes.

"I was sitting in the living room and just happened to see fur so I came out to the dining room window and just saw him, he was sitting," said Lorrie Carlyn from Tehachapi.

Los Padres Bear Aware program says the drought is so bad some bears never went into hibernation this winter, and the lack of water has killed most of their natural food sources.

"I was doing some yard work down here and the dog did a funny growl and we are keeping a gun loaded just to keep them scared away," said Stan Tehee. "We came outside and the bear was right there.

Here are some tips from the program to keep bears away from your home and property and to keep safe.

Attractants for bears:
-Remove outdoor pet food bowls and water bowls.
-Remove bird feeders and nectar feeders.
-Clean your BBQ after each use (bears will lick the grill for greasy calories!).
-Empty 'kiddie' pools after use.
-Pick fruit trees ASAP and remove any fallen fruit.
-Bears are attracted to backyard chickens and so are mountain lions.
-Store trash property.
-Remove any scented products such as outdoor candles, soap, insect repellent and suntan lotion.
-Remove d-CON rodent control as bears are attracted to it and it is toxic to them and other wildlife.
-Oak trees in the fall are a natural attractant for bears, but they will eat and move on as long as all other attractants are removed.

Tips for living in Bear Country:
-Store trash inside your garage or home until it's taken to a transfer center or collected on collection day.
-Clean your trash cans with bleach or ammonia on a regular basis to reduce smells.
-Only set out trash on collection day.
-Spray original scent Pine-Sol (no fruity versions) on or around the container as needed to mask trash scent on collection day.
-Invest in and use bear resistant trash containers.
-Always lock your home doors.
-Never leave a garage door open and unoccupied. It looks like a new bear cave to check out!
-Always lock your vehicle doors.
-Screens on ground or deck level do not keep bears out. Open windows on levels not accessible to bears.
-Installing motion-sensor lighting, electric fencing (for chickens & fruit trees), and motion activated sprinklers can deter bears.
-Bears can climb stairs, chain-link fences, wooden deck poles, wooden fences, and telephone poles.
-Most bear photos are taken in daylight. Don't believe the idea that bears only wander at night.

Protecting your vehicle in Bear Country:
-Vacuum vehicle floors regularly.
-At the car wash, do not add scented air fresheners like 'Cherry', 'Watermelon' and other food related scents.
-Remove dog treats and pet food.
-Remove candy, gum, or mints from the vehicle.
-Remove fast food wrappers & all trash.
-Promptly remove groceries from your vehicle.
-Cover coolers in your vehicle with a blanket if day traveling and remove them from the vehicle if staying overnight.
-Baby Items: baby/child car seat covers should be washed often. If staying overnight camping or at a cabin, remove the baby/child seat from the vehicle.
-Always lock the vehicle doors.

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