Bear activity is gradually slowing


There are still reports of bear encounters and sightings along all three forks of the Kaweah River but apparently not in the numbers of a few weeks ago. The majority of bears have put on plenty of weight so for some it’s enough to prompt an instinctual return to higher, colder elevations where they can spend extended time in dens.

Injured bear— Tulare County Fire Department personnel responded on Friday, Nov. 20, to a report of an injured bear in a pasture in the 41800 block of North Fork Drive. The bear was eating and appeared to be able to survive on its own. The bruin was spotted the next morning farther up North Fork Drive, but still obviously injured.   

Bears vs. vehicles— At least two other bears have been killed by cars since the Sunday, Nov. 15, incident when one was struck and killed near the Kaweah General Store. Caltrans was summoned as the responsible agency in that mishap.

Another bear fatality was reported to the Commonwealth on Monday, Nov. 23. This one occurred in the same area as two previous collisions, at the intersection of Pierce Drive and Highway 198.

Wildlife crossing— A Three Rivers resident has been in discussions with Caltrans about a proposal for a wildlife crossing near where the South Fork of the Kaweah River meets the Middle Fork. It  is an involved process to build a wildlife corridor on a state highway but to do so could save bears, deer, and other animals attempting to cross Highway 198 to access the river.

Garbage and bears— There is evidence that multiple bears are still knocking over trash cans in several areas. In the majority of cases where the can has had a bear-proofing device  installed, the bear simply moves on to easier pickings. 

One bear, however, easily rips off the plastic lid, and it doesn’t seem to matter if the can is “bear-proofed” or not. Dane Millner, owner of Sierra Subs and Salads, said one night this past week, when he went out to dump the day’s garbage, he was startled by a bear that growled up at him from inside the dumpster.

“I got out of there in a hurry,” Dane said.  

Two Three Rivers residents, Jana DesForges and Sarah Elliott, have bearproofed 20 garbage cans in the last two weeks, and there is still a waiting list of a dozen or so more residents who need assistance keeping bears out of garbage.

Jana designed the easy-to-use contraption that consists of sturdy chains, carabiners, and U-bolts. The design has proved to be successful against all but the most aggressive of bears.

Email to get on the list. The cost is $20, which covers the hardware; installation is free.    

Bears learning lessons— One resident on the upper Middle Fork reported that he has had a mature bear with a green ear tag hanging around his property for several weeks. 

“The bear recently entered my barn through an unlocked door and got into some food that was stored there for livestock and pets,” the man said. “I just removed the food from the barn — and end of problem. Now the bear seems content to sleep a lot in a nearby oak tree.”

Photographs wanted— The Great Bear Influx of 2015 is an important event in the life and times of Three Rivers. The Kaweah Commonwealth wants to document this unprecedented event in print and in an online photo gallery to share with the world ( 

Email photos to: Type “BEARS” in the subject line. 

Include the name of the photographer or, if wishing to remain anonymous, state this preference (photo will be tagged as “Submitted Photo”). 

Please identify the location or neighborhood in which the photo was taken. Photos should be from 2015 only.

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