It was only a matter of time until word of Kaweah Country’s exciting new attraction would get out. The best place to see a bear in the Lower 48 isn’t Yellowstone National Park, it’s right here, right now in Three Rivers.
Bears are reportedly everywhere. Some have ear tags; some don’t. Some sows have cubs; one cub appears orphaned. These bears are dining on acorns and not wandering too far from the Kaweah River.
On Monday, Oct. 26, a Cherokee Oaks caller reported that there was a large black bear up in the tree next to her house.
“He’s so big my husband thinks he can’t get down,” the caller said.
A spontaneous bear jam caused a flash mob Tuesday afternoon on Sierra Drive while dozens of motorists pulled over to photograph a mature bear 75 feet up in an oak tree next to the River View Restaurant.
More than one day this week bears have been spotted sauntering across Three Rivers Golf Course.
A group of a half-dozen or so bears have been making daily rounds on the North Fork back and forth across the river from Sequoia RV Park to Riata Ranch.
“We love having the bears here,” said a registration employee at Sequoia RV Park. “They are not aggressive, and guests are thrilled to see them hanging around the campground.”
“The horses let the bears know where they can go and where they can’t go,” said Chad Nicholson, who with his wife, Jennifer, lives and works on Riata Ranch. “We have a hot wire on a portion of the fence, and the bears know exactly where they can be. We’ve never had one approach the house.”
This week, a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) crew was shooting footage in Sequoia National Park for a documentary about bears when they heard about the bears in Three Rivers. They filmed on location at Riata Ranch and then went in search of bears in other parts of Three Rivers.
An Associated Press reporter was in town over the weekend, drawn here by the reports of poaching. That story will hit the AP wires soon.
One resident of Sequoia Oaks (three miles up the South Fork) reported they have a bear that splashes in the river and visits nightly.
A bear was reportedly killed on the BLM-Salt Creek Trail on Friday, Oct. 23. Lt. Doug Barnhart, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife warden, who is in charge of investigating local poaching and complaints, said he didn’t know if a hunting tag was turned in for this bear.
Barnhart did say a “couple” of depredation permits have been issued for the Tulare County foothills during the current season but said he does not have access to specific information.