Bear family prepares for hibernation by pillaging 3R garbage


This bear family (in photo), which was first reported on in last week’s issue has been spotted in several areas around town.

Sequoia National Park wildlife biologists and bear technicians first began monitoring this group of bears on September 10 after it was reported they got into food left out by visitors at the Pinewood Picnic area in the Giant Forest area, according to Zach Behrens, acting public affairs specialist. The adult female is identified as C16 and her two cubs are D16 (male) and E16 (female). 

“These bears are likely to be involved in interactions with people in the future and by having them uniquely marked and identifiable from a distance, we can document the history of individual bears,” wrote Zach in an email. “The better we understand the ecology of these animals, the easier we can coexist with them.”

From Pinewood Picnic Area to Three Rivers is a distance of more than 12 air miles and descent of 5,000 vertical feet. Because park visitors allowed these bears a taste of human food, that is what they are looking for in the mostly non-bear-proofed community of Three Rivers.

As reported last week, mother bear was unsuccessful in gaining access to the bear-proofed trash cans at the Three Rivers Historical Museum, but at a Kaweah River Drive residence, her persistence paid off. Although this target can was also bear-proofed, she was able to rip into the bottom of it.

She later returned to the residence and put a dent in the garage door where the trash can was being stored.

And what may have been a move to protect her cubs, she also was aggressive toward a dog this week. The dog lived to tell about it, but it has neighbors wary about leaving their companion animals outside and taking walks.

Because more trash cans are unsecured than bear-proofed in Three Rivers, it is safe to assume this bear family has found some garbage to eat. This will only make the trio more brazen in their attempts to get food; most likely their days are numbered. 

This hyperphagic mother bear is just following her instincts to prepare for her winter nap. Three Rivers residents can be the cause of her returning with her cubs back to the higher elevations safely and naturally by keeping all trash, pet food, birdseed, and other attractants out of her reach. 

But it takes just one non-bear-proofed, unattended garbage can in a neighborhood to turn a bear into a junk-food addict. To bear-proof a trash can for just the cost of materials (installation is free), email

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