The seasonal surge of wildlife — deer, bear, mountain lion — is starting once again, fueled by habitat that is far too dry way too soon. But don’t expect the great bear influx of 2015 when bears arrived in droves to Three Rivers during late summer and into fall.
That year of the devastating Rough Fire combined with extreme drought conditions was a perfect storm that drove bears out of the high country with no place to go — except down the Kaweah River drainages in search of a food source rich in calories. That food source — acorns — was one bears knew instinctively existed along the rivers at lower elevations.
They came in unprecedented numbers. Like this year, the influx began along the South Fork and soon spread to the other Kaweah tributaries.
As for July 2018, there have been three reported incidents where bears have overturned trash cans on South Fork Drive. A bear that receives the reward of human food will return or search for similar sources.
It’s time for residents to lock up trash in bear-proofed containers, secure bird coops, and keep pet food, bird feeders, and any other food sources inaccessible.
Black bears are a natural part of the Three Rivers ecosystem; this is their habitat. By bear-proofing garbage receptacles and other food sources and never, ever feeding a bear, Three Rivers can be a bear-tolerant community and live harmoniously with these peaceful bruins.
In addition, the deer are back and can become a grazing nuisance for local farmers and backyard gardeners. And where there are deer, there will be mountain lions as these big cats consider deer their favorite food.
About five to six miles up the South Fork, residents have reported losing several cats and three goats to a mountain lion. A chicken coop was also plundered.
One South Fork resident reportedly fired a shot recently at a mountain lion while it was carrying off the hindquarter of one of her cats. The mountain lion stopped, gave the shooter a defiant look, then disappeared into the brush.
What can you do to keep your pets safe and protect local wildlife? First, keep pets and chickens in a secure location, especially at night. Next secure all trash and odorous items by bear proofing garbage cans and other storage bins. If you have a bear-proofing contraption on your trash can, now is the time to start using it.
To receive assistance on bear-proofing a trash can, email bearproof3R@gmail.com.