Bear attacks woman who’d been sleeping in Sierra Madre backyard

In March, a bear was seen wandering in Arcadia. This week, a bear attacked a resident in nearby Sierra Madre.
In March, a black bear was spotted wandering along Canyon Road in Arcadia. This week, a bear attacked a resident in nearby Sierra Madre.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A young woman who had fallen asleep in her Sierra Madre backyard awoke to the sight of a bear earlier this week, and the encounter quickly turned violent, state Fish and Wildlife officials said.

The animal began to scratch and bite the woman, who has not been identified, and she struck the bear with her laptop, Capt. Patrick Foy told KABC-TV Channel 7.

When she and the bear broke contact, she was able to run inside to safety.

The bear’s DNA was collected from the woman’s wounds and will be compared with samples taken from a bear that was trapped in the area the day after Monday’s attack, officials said. If the DNA matches, the trapped bear “would be euthanized in the interest of public safety,” Foy said.


Bear sightings are not uncommon in the Sierra Madre area, which sits at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. While residents there and in nearby foothills have routinely spotted bears in swimming pools and wandering neighborhood streets, attacks are rare, officials said.

In this instance, Foy said the bear had not been provoked.

“They didn’t provoke the animal. They didn’t get between the animal and its cubs. They didn’t attract it inadvertently with the strong odor of food,” he told CBS-TV Channel 2. “This person was asleep with a laptop in her lap and was doing nothing that would be argued as inadvertently attracting this bear.”

Last June, an adult black bear scratched a man on his Sierra Madre property. Fish and Wildlife biologists concluded that the female bear had acted in defense of itself and its nearby cub. The bear had wandered onto the property, when the man’s dog challenged it. The man intervened and was scratched in the process.

Both the mother and cub were released back into the wild.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has a list of suggestions for bear-proofing a home, which includes the recommendation that residents avoid confrontations with bear that break into houses and gives it an escape route to safely leave. Residents are also advised to block access to potential hibernation spots, such as crawl spaces.