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2023 Bear Break-in Breakdown

Pine Mountain Club reflects on 2023 bear interactions, and passes on words of wisdom
Posted at 6:52 PM, Jan 02, 2024
  • Video shows a summary of bear break-ins, according to the Pine Mountain Club community
  • Local patrol says to avoid feeding or interacting with bears, unless to deter them from your property
  • If a bear comes on your property, patrol says to appear big and make a lot of noise

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Pine Mountain Club takes a 'beary' unique approach to their New Year resolution– by looking to the past, especially when it comes to break-ins involving bears.

Patrice Stimpson, patrol chief for Pine Mountain Club, said these animals can cause a lot of trouble.

“Since July 1st this year, we’ve had 541 calls for assistance with bear issues,” said Stimpson, "I've been here 23 years and it's the worst I've ever seen it."

In 2023, a community-run Facebook account tracked 322 home entries.

This includes damage to homes, garages, crawlspaces, or sheds.

This is an increase from last year, which had 311.

These numbers highlight just how worse the situation became over time, with 185 entries or damage in 2021.

Now, these numbers apply only to home break-ins.

When it comes to vehicles, the group claims there were 179 break-ins in 2023– four cars were mostly totaled.

This number is down a handful from last year. 2021 was the lowest over three years with 118 vehicles.

And these numbers are only what have been reported.

So while cute, these bears can be troublemakers.

“He got in the house and he was able to get to my pantry, which had some nuts which of course, anytime a bear gets food, now you gotta deal with the bear knowing it has food and it understands and it remembers,” said Jennifer Emett, one of the residents in Pine Mountain Club.

She described her first-hand experience with a break in.

“He came back the very next night, tried to go in the same window, but he found out that it was blocked and he went around the house and tore the screen off of almost every window I have in the house.”

With the increased break-ins, the bears are getting braver. As a result, the local patrol has to get creative.

Stimpson said, “We’ve had to go from noisemakers, bullhorns, sirens, things of that nature. We had to step it up to paintball guns.”

And when those didn’t work, patrol resorted to projectile launchers.

“Which [are] little hard rubber balls. And it’s not a firearm, but it stings them a little more,” said Stimpson.

It’s worth mentioning that the POA bans the discharge of firearms.

Now one resident, Carolyn Smith, found another solution.

She recommends a specific electric mat, saying it has been very effective at deterring bears.

Stimpson said, “A lot of people are afraid of bears. There’s no need to be afraid of them. They’re not hunters, they’re opportunistic omnivores.”

And while rather docile, it is strongly encouraged to not feed or interact with the bears.

“The best thing to do if you run into a bear, if a bear is in your home, don’t get between the bear and its exit point. It will always go out the way it came in,” said Stimpson.

And if you’re driving on the roads, including the S-curve, drive slow and be on the lookout.

Emett said that the community lost a mama bear and her cub after trying to cross the street. Sadly, the cub was hit as well while looking for his mother.

Emett advises the community to “look for the smallest animal like a mouse or a rat, and you will see the movement of the bear trying to cross the road.”

Headed into 2024, the community hopes to lower these numbers in the years to come.

Pine Mountain Club patrol is open 24/7 to help residents in bear-related incidents which can be reached at (661) 242-3857. If there is an emergency, call 911.

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