by: Carrie A. Blakley
Welcome to Sierra County, the Autumn Edition. As everyone has probably noticed by now, there is a lot of bear activity going on right now. I’ve heard everything from, ‘I can not believe how aggressive they are’, to, ‘Yeah, if someone could let the bears know that we need the garbage can lid returned to the front of the court house, that would be great’….and back again. By the way, the latter of that statement is just as true as the former of that statement. So if anyone happens to see a large, flat, black donut shaped piece of plastic laying around, please return it to the Sierra County Court House. One of the bears made off with it last week, and the rubbish bin just hasn’t felt quite the same since.
So let’s look into a few facts regarding Ursus arctos, more commonly known as ‘a brown bear’. Or, as local residents have been currently referring to it. ‘that damn bear got into the trash again’. First, and foremost, these animals are big. I mean really big. They can reach up to 9 feet in length (nose to tail), with a shoulder height of about 5 feet. While the average weight of a bear ranges between 350 – 425 pounds, there have been bears that have obviously been larger (such as the bear that likely weighs in around the 500 pound mark, that has been meandering around my yard as of late).
We all know their muscle power, proof of which can be seen throughout the towns as they put on their toppled dumpster displays – sometimes on a nightly basis. Keep in mind that those bear bars are not going to stop a bear from trying to turn a dumpster into a take away container. Nor are they going to prevent the bears from literally prying open the ‘secured’ lids of said dumpsters like a sardine can. As for their claws? Well, take a pen, and look at the size. The claws of a full grown bear are not much shorter than your writing pen, and are razor sharp. Great, so how big is a bear’s paw then? About the same size as your face. Literally.
Autumn is the time of year that people see the most wild life activity, and not just bears. I personally watched one of our CHP officers move a rather large (and rather fat) rattlesnake to the side of the road, with a shovel, on Saturday afternoon. I’ve seen 6 inch wide Mountain Lion paw prints in my driveway. The most recent of which appeared just last Wednesday. So yes, folks, there are many things in this county that can eat your feet – and will do so willingly, if given the chance. Be safe. Never, EVER try to ‘pet the cute little bear cub’, unless you’re truly wanting to sign your own funeral papers. Have a good week, and please be very aware of your surroundings at all times, especially if you’re camping, or out in the forest.