MONTEREY, Calif. - UPDATE 11/7/2017 10:25 p.m.: It’s a big reminder that we share the Central Coast with wildlife. Not only was there a possible bear sighting at Jacks Peak Park in Monterey, but down the road, a mountain lion.
On Monday, a couple of hikers in the regional park saw what they believed was a black bear, causing park officials to take some precautions. On Tuesday, signs were put up notifying visitors of the bear sighting. Game wardens were also out, looking for evidence of a bear. It’s a task they say is tough because there’s dense brush that can cover bear tracks.
“If we got lucky we would find hair rubbed off on a tree trunk, we might find scat from a bear that they left behind,” said Jeff Cann, a wildlife biologist with California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
But nothing was found.
Visitors we spoke with on Tuesday didn't’t see anything out of the ordinary, but did find themselves in shock of the news.
"I didn't believe it, not at all,” Hudson Facchini said. “Because me personally, I have never seen big animals, especially a bear around here, only the small kind but we did see a lot of berries throughout the trail, definitely a lot coming up recently.”
But bears are what officials call an “occasional visitor.” There are some 35,000 bears in California, and some do make their way to the northern part of the Los Padres National Forest. On several occasions, several have wandered into the peninsula. In the last few years, one was captured in Pacific Grove, another was spotted near CSUMB, then again in Monterey before disappearing.
Cann said previous cases happened in May or June and involved younger bears, at a time when many separate from their mothers. There’s no reason why the bears are in the area, but a particular berry they like to eat are in season right now. It’s unknown whether the bears on the Central Coast actually hibernate.
“Bears that are from areas mountainous and cold are definitely trying to put on weight in the fall before they have to hibernate,” Cann said. “We’re not even sure bears have to hibernate here on the coast. They may for a shorter period of time.”
If the bears are foraging for food, people can help move them out of the area by not leaving their trash out. They advise people to not put the garbage out until the day it will be picked up.
“We’re not actively pursuing this animal,” Cann said. “I don’t want to give people the impression we are trying to go after it. If it can find its way home on its own, that would be ideal.”
They say pursuing the animal would be a last resort, but they are ready to prepare to find the animal if they have to track it.
But the bear sighting isn’t the only one as of late.
Neighbors living in the Fishermen’s Flat area of Monterey off of Josselyn Canyon Road have noticed an unwelcome guest. In the past month, a mountain lion has been spotted about six different times.
"I’ve seen bobcats and definitely deer and coyotes but those being as small as they are, there's not the same safety concern as seeing a mountain lion running around in the neighborhood" Hal Wolter said.
Wolter has two young children and three pets. He said he’s not only concerned about their safety but that of his neighbors and a nearby school.
"We're definitely keeping the kids closer to us physically and then when it comes to playing in the back or the front yard, we always have our bigger of our two dogs with us to make sure a little guard patrol, somebody who can make a little noise," Wolter said.
Cann said it’s not a cause for concern yet, because simply existing is not illegal for the animals.
“The cause for alarm is if its damaging livestock, or its trying to hurt a pet or something like that,” Cann said. “Mountain lions are around us often, more often that we know and they don’t bother us. So I would say they are a common sighting on the peninsula because there’s lots of deer. Deer is what they want to eat.”
Click here to find out some of the information Fish and Wildlife has that people should know when living near wildlife.
UPDATE: 11/7/2017 2:59 p.m. Bear and mountain lion sightings have been reported by multiple residents in Monterey County.
Fish and Game Officers are investigating a possible Black Bear Sighting in Monterey.
A couple hiking in Jacks Peak Park saw what they believed to be a Black Bear Monday. It’s prompted park officials to put up signage, alerting visitors to the possible sighting.
Fish and Game officials said they do get reports of Black Bears in the area. In fact, they've seen bears come to the Monterey area about once a year or so. One bear was spotted in Pacific Grove last year, and another was seen roaming around the campus of California State University Monterey Bay.
However, folks KION spoke to said they were pretty surprised.
"I didn't believe it, not at all. Because me personally, I have never seen big animals, especially a bear around here,” said park visitor, Hudson Facchini.
Brian Pitnick, another visitor at the park said, "No I didn't know there were black bears here but I know there's a lot of wildlife, we have bobcats, we see quite a bit, a lot of deer."
There have been other wildlife sightings in unincorporated Monterey. Residents off of Josselyn Canyon Road have seen a mountain lion roam at night over the past month.
KION’s Mariana Hicks has more from concerned residents tonight at 6 p.m.
The County of Monterey has issued a warning for people hiking at Jack's Peak Park.
Officials told KION around noon Monday, a couple was hiking when they saw what they believe was a black bear cub.
The County said at this point in their investigation, they have found no evidence of a bear considering the couple was not able to provide a photo. But they do say Toyon berries are in full production, so if bears were frequenting the area, now would likely be the time for it.
Park Ranger John Anthony said if you do see a bear, make as much noise as possible while making yourself look as large as possible and get out.
The park will be posting signs to warn park goers and remind them what steps to take if they encounter a bear.