Bear caught after run in Claremont

When Leslie Carr, a resident in the 100 block of Lynoak Drive, took her dogs Captain Butler and Ruby for a walk early Wednesday morning, she shrugged off their agitated behavior as a result of a passing squirrel or other common annoyance. Ms. Carr wasn’t expecting to find the actual source of her dog’s unusual behavior to be a bear.

A 145-pound California Black Bear made its way through Ms. Carr’s neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, sending police officers and wardens of California’s Department of Fish and Game on a game of chase before finally being caught within the North Towne Park Circle Condominiums near Foothill Boulevard. The bear, unharmed in the process, will be released back into the Angeles National Forest, according to officials of the Department of Fish and Game.

Claremont and Pomona police had received numerous early morning calls about a bear sighting in the local neighborhood before finding the possible suspect on Lynoak Drive. Around 1:30 a.m. a bear was spotted at Baseline and Mountain. About 3 hours later the bear was spotted on nearby Briarcroft Road and Towne Avenue, and then at 7 a.m. on Briarcroft and Lynoak Drive.

The pursuit—which forced a lockdown at nearby Sumner Elementary School—began after the strong-willed female black bear left the safety of a tall residential tree in the 100 block of Lynoak. The bear took up residency in the deodar tree around 10 a.m. after being taunted and spooked by a couple of bystanders, according to Officer Steve Sidenfaden.

While bears have frequently been spotted in the mountainous Padua Hills neighborhood, bears have never been an issue for neighbors of Lynoak.

“We’ve had several coyotes, lots of raccoons and squirrels, but never a bear,” Ms. Carr’s neighbor Laurie Applebee exclaimed.

The neighborhood bear sighting was new for both neighbors and officials alike.

“This is the first time we have seen a bear below the 210 freeway,” commented Warden Don Nelson of the California Department of Fish and Game.

While Mr. Nelson attributed the allure of “trash day” as to why the bear traveled so far down the mountain, later evidence showed that perhaps the bear was not such a newcomer to the area after all. When the bear finally left its lofty hiding place around noon—spurred by a second hit of a tranquilizer gun wielded by fish and game wardens— it jumped a series of fences, finally coming to a stop in the backyard of a residence in the 1100 block of Briarcroft. Police believe its final stop was not a coincidence. Watch Commander Sergeant Lori Davenport says the backyard, found shaded with avocado trees and what looks like a little den created by the side fence, might have been a frequent destination point for the hungry black bear.

—Beth Hartnett


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