On Wednesday, June 22, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Mono County Sheriff’s Department gave attendees of a June Lake Bear Aware meeting a clear message: The bears were here first and it’s up to humans to keep them wild and alive. Andrew Hughan, Public Information Officer for CDFW gave a presentation to local property owners and concerned citizens about how to bear-proof their homes, cars, and RVs. Local Wardens Todd Estrada and William Dailey, along with Deputy John Pelchowski of the Mono County Sherriff’s Department fielded questions from the crowd.
Feeding wildlife is a crime in California and can incur a penalty of $1,000 or six months in prison. Individuals who can prove a bear or mountain lion damaged their property or livestock are eligible to apply for a depredation permit. The permit, issued by CDFW, allows the property owner and two other listed agents to kill the animal, typically using a shotgun, if it returns to the property.
Warden Dailey told the crowd that there are four Fish and Wildlife Officers for all of Mono and Inyo Counties and that he does not have the staff, nor is it their job, to kill depredation bears. He emphasized that CDFW never wants to kill an animal and that this should be seen as the absolute last resort. Property owners should educate themselves and their tenants about how to live in bear country. Tim Taylor, Wildlife Biologist for CDFW, provided the audience with an array of tips for bear-proofing their living spaces, all of which are available on CDFW’s “Keep Me Wild” campaign website.