Police issue trash warning after 300-pound bear spotted twice in neighborhood

A 300-pound California black bear seen rummaging through garbage Friday in a La Crescenta neighborhood has prompted officials to remind residents that leaving trash bins unsecured is like an open dinner invitation for wildlife.

Glenwood Oaks resident John McLeod’s son first spotted the bear digging through their trash bin about 1 a.m. Thursday from his car’s rearview mirror after pulling into their home driveway.

They spotted the bear the next day at about the same time, he said.

“I know those bears aren’t going to respond aggressively toward people,” McLeod said.

Soon after the sightings, police sent out emails with details on black bears to residents, asking them to properly lock-up their trash cans in effort to dissuade more bears from entering neighborhoods in search of food.

The public was also warned to avoid contact with the bears, although officials said there was no immediate threat.

“The bears are not used to humans and the humans are not used to bears,” Glendale Police Officer Matt Zakarian said.

Wildlife experts said the recent bear sightings were unexpected in the Glenwood Oaks neighborhood.

“It’s very rare in Southern California to see them go into urban areas,” said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Several bear sightings were reported in May off Ocean View Boulevard, and two were seen in La Cañada Flintridge on Alta Canyada Road and on Bonita Vista Drive, where a resident said a bear ate four backyard chickens.

Still, experts said it’s not unusual to see bears leaving their mountain dwellings during the summer in search of food.

Rummaging through trash bins, or even taking a dip in swimming pools isn’t unusual behavior for bears in the summer, experts said.

“Sometimes they just get off the track and they need to be scooted back,” said Ricky Whitman, a spokeswoman for Pasadena Humane Society.

To report a bear sighting, call 911 or the Pasadena Humane Society at (626) 792-7151.


The following are tips from the Glendale Police Department, the state Department Fish and Game and Pasadena Humane Society on dealing with bears in your neighborhoods.

- Keep trash and recycling bins secured until morning pick up and then move any cans to the curb.

- If you see a bear, don’t run or turn away. Make yourself appear large and walk away slowly.

- Remove all food from the outside of your property.

- Bears are attracted to outdoor food, fruit, bird feeders and pet food. They can smell food up to a mile away.

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