Hungry Bears Invade Calif. Town

Drought has forced them down from the mountains
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 9, 2015 12:40 AM CST
A California black bear roams in Three Rivers, Calif.    (Brian Melley)
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(Newser) – Black bears driven from the mountains by drought have invaded a town outside of California's Sequoia National Park in search of food. A record number of bears are seeking acorns in the tiny town of Three Rivers, home to an eclectic mix of park employees, ranchers, and hippies and a retreat for celebrities that include Anjelica Huston and William Shatner. The four-year drought shriveled the berry crop in the Sierra Nevada, and parched hillside oaks produced fewer acorns, forcing bears into river valleys. Everyone seems to have photos and stories of bear encounters.

Bears have climbed on roofs for acorns, and one was found exploring a bathroom under renovation in a house. A bear tore apart the outer walls of a resident's pump house and a music studio to get at acorns a woodpecker had stowed in the siding. They've knocked over plenty of garbage cans and raided fruit trees and grapevines. They did a number on the apple orchard at Shatner's Belle Reve ranch, according to the caretaker, who says he got a permit to kill the culprits but didn't use it during the two-week period it was valid. The local newspaper has reported killings, though game wardens say they're not investigating because they have no evidence of poaching. (A hunter in Idaho woke up to find a bear chewing on his head.)

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