PALM DESERT, Calif. - It was an unusual encounter for Riverside County Animal Control on Sunday. Animal Control officers were called in to catch a wandering bear in Indio yesterday.
Now some people are asking, 'Why did that bear come to the desert?' and 'What do you do if you're confronted by a wild animal?'.
A long winter in hibernation could be why a 125 pound California black bear took a trip to Indio. That's according Peter Siminski, director of conservation, at The Living Desert.
"In the Spring, there aren't any berries or nuts to eat. They've [bears] lost 25 percent of their weight in hibernation and they're hungry. They'll follow drainages. So she could've followed a drainage down. Sometimes they'll come down to the desert for prickly pear fruit, which sometimes come into fruit before some of the things do in the mountains," Siminski said.
Siminski says bear encounters in the desert only happen every few years, and other wild animals shouldn't be in town anytime soon.
"I wouldn't expect the same thing with other animals. So things like mountain lions and bobcats, particularly bobcats, they're having a good year feeding on rabbits, and mountain lions will probably have a good year, if there's a good year for deer up in the mountains," Siminski said.
But wild animals are unpredictable.
Collin Barrows, the conservation coordinator with Friends of the Desert Mountains says it's important to know what to do if you come across a wild animal.
"Never run away. Make yourself seem large. Make a lot of noise. You can start to move towards them, which seems counter-intuitive, but for something like a mountain lion, appearing threatening can be something that scares them off. For a bear, you may not want to move towards them, cause they can see that as a territorial threat," Barrows said.
Barrows went on to say, if you see a wild animal in a residential area, like the bear spotted on Sunday, call 911 or animal control as soon as possible.
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