Residents on Huer Huero Rd. in northern San Luis Obispo County have experienced a series of bear attacks on their chicken coops and are taking steps to protect their animals in case it happens again.
"It's been a pretty good coop. It's kept a lot of things out, but not bear," said resident Mary Aarons.
Aarons says, on June 9, a bear attacked her chicken coop, killing two birds. Her son's dog then chased it away.
"We came to inspect the damage and a piece of the fence was just pushed down. Not climbed, just pushed down. There are claw marks in the nesting box here," Aarons explained.
Aarons says the bear left a bloody chicken carcass near the coop. Concerned, she called Fish and Wildlife for advice on how to keep her chickens safe.
Environmental scientist Brandon Swanson says the bear was probably forced out of its previous home range for some reason and has wandered into an area where there are captive animals that make for an easy meal.
"So the best thing against bears is electric fencing around chicken coops or bringing animals into an area that is completely secure," Swanson said.
Wildlife officials recommended Aarons put hot wire around the coop.
"If everyone protects their livestock, keeps everything away from the bear, it should move on to another place," Swanson said.
Aarons joined local Facebook groups to keep tabs on the bear's activity.
"I haven't seen anything about him for 3 or 4 days now but I don't think he's gone and that feels scary," Aarons said.
While Fish and Wildlife officials do not believe this bear encounter is related to the drought, they say it’s likely the drought will lead to more human-wildlife encounters.
They provided the following tips to help deter wild animals from your property:
- Bring pets in at night
- Place livestock in a secure structure
- Do not leave pet/livestock food out at night
- If possible, remove water sources
- For herd animals, such as sheep and goats that cannot be sheltered, a large dog such as Great Pyrenees will help protect them
If you do spot a bear or mountain lion in a residential area, report it to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife online byclicking here.