H-SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

Aug 20, 2013 8:39 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

CA Department of Fish and Wildlife give tips on protecting yourself around a black bear

Recent bear attacks around the country and an increase in bear sightings along the Central Coast made KSBY want to revisit what to do if you see a bear. According to the Associated Press, a 12-year old girl was mauled in northern Michigan on Thursday by a black bear. California's Department of Fish and Wildlife said black bears are expanding their range, including here in San Luis Obispo County.

Some San Luis Obispo residents were asked what they think they should do if they spot a bear.

One man said, "We were taught to make a lot of noise."

A 13-year old girl from the Santa Margarita area said, "Be really loud so that they don't, they don't see you as prey."

Fish and Wildlife said with an increasing population of 30,000 to 40,000 black bears in the state, one has to be aware.

"They absolutely can hurt you. They're very strong, powerful animals, and you need to treat them with respect," said Bob Stafford, an Environmental Scientist for Fish and Wildlife.

Stafford said a black bear can run up to 25 to 30 miles per hour, and he said the first thing you should do if you encounter a black bear is to give it some room and not run from it.

He said, "If you run from a black bear, they give off response like a predator, just like if you run from your dog, that dog will chase you, it's the same kind of thing."

The second tip Stafford gives is to back away slowly.

"And you can watch them from a distance, but you know, just make sure they have a place to get out," said Stafford.

And if you feel like the bear is still approaching you, the third tip is to throw stuff at the bear.

Stafford continued, "Yell at it, scream at it, you know, be aggressive. Put your hands up, make yourself look big."

Black bears are generally not overly aggressive, unless it's a mother with her cub and she feels threatened. Stafford added that a female black bear can weigh between 100-150 pounds and a male black bear's weight can range between 300 and 600 pounds.

Stafford said it has been a long while since there has been an attack in San Luis Obispo County. He said the black bears are popping up in the Santa Lucia range and recreation areas like Lopez Lake and Santa Margarita Lake.

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