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What's behind all the bear sightings in Southern California?

What's behind all the bear sightings in Southern California?
A black bear climbs a tree in Rancho Cucamonga on May 18. ((Rancho Cucamonga Police Department / Associated Press)

There was the cub roaming near a Duarte bike path in April. The next day, a bear climbed a palm tree in a Sylmar backyard. And last week, a Rancho Cucamonga junior high school went on lockdown after a bear was sighted near campus.

On Monday, another one was spotted near the Eaton Canyon Park Golf Course in Pasadena.

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It's that time of the year when the animals frequently wander into neighborhoods from their wilderness homes.

The good news is the sightings should taper off, said Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"We've had about one [bear sighting] a week for three weeks," he said. "But it should be over soon."

Most of the bears are juveniles, between 1 and 2 years old, who have been displaced by younger siblings, Hughan said. "The new cubs have been born, and it is time for big brother or big sister to move on," he said.

For the older cubs, "it's their first time on their own, so they'll smell something and follow it and next thing you know they're in downtown Pasadena," Hughan said.

Generally, the young animals learn to survive and avoid humans within a few weeks, he said.

The bear spotted in Pasadena might be a quick learner. Despite being followed by TV news cameras on Monday, it escaped into the wilderness and did not need to be tranquilized, Hughan said.

"Hopefully, it's scared enough not to come back," he said.

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