Bears Active In Mountains & Foothills As Spring Season Progresses

Unlike 2023, the Winter of 2024 was too mild to force the San Bernardino Mountain bears into hibernation. They are now coming out of the more recessed areas into populated areas and the foothills where they represent a threat to humans.
Some bears were seen in the vicinity of the New Mesa and Old Mesa campgrounds within the Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area on the north side of the mountains. On the south side, some bears, including a mother with cubs, were seen near Forest Falls.
Officials with the Division of California State Parks have issued a bear alert. The New Mesa and Old Mesa Campgrounds are set between Lake Silverwood and Highway 138.
Forest Falls is at an elevation of 5,700 feet and is host to waterfalls on Vivian Creek and Falls Creek. Forest Falls is a point of access into the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area of the San Bernardino National Forest. The San Gorgonio Wilderness Area lies north of Forest Falls.
Bears are most often present in densely wooded regions.
People should avoid encounters with bears. Approaching a bear and bear cubs in particular can be extremely dangerous. Mother bears will attack to protect their cubs.
“While bears are captivating creatures, they pose a potential threat to both humans and pets,” according to the park officials said.
The National Park Service offers these tips to stay safe when spotting a bear:
• Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
• Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by woofing, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.
• Pick up small children immediately. Do not make any loud noises or screams—the bear may think it’s the sound of a prey animal. Slowly wave your arms above your head and tell the bear to back off. Do NOT run or make any sudden movements. Do not make any loud noises or screams—the bear may think it’s the sound of a prey animal.
• Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.
• Make yourselves look as large as possible by, for example, moving to higher ground).
• Do not allow the bear access to your food. Giving a bear acces to your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.
• Do not drop your pack, as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
• If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears.
Food should be kept locked inside a vehicle or bear-proof container. Bears can open ice chests or unlocked vehicle doors. Food should not be kept inside a tent. Bears are also attracted to fragrant perfumes, body sprays, or scented products of any type.

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