May 6, 2014 1:06 AM
Wildlife officials are warning the public that bear and mountain lion activity will be on the rise this summer. With this year's dry winter conditions, bears and mountain lions will have a harder time finding food and that mean's an increased chance for encounters with these predators. "With the mountain lions, they follow the deer and the deer will be coming down for food so they kind of follow their food source," said Tracy Mohr, Animal Services Manager for the City of Chico.
Officials are concerned about more encounters with mountain lions and bears as we approach the summer months. "As people are becoming more active with the nice weather and venturing out further into the park areas, then they might actually have some sightings,” said Mohr.
Karey Cooper, a runner in Upper Bidwell Park in Chico, says she's already taking precautions when going for a run. "Sing really loud when you're down by yourself that way… Whistle, make noise. Every once in a while it gets a little creepy when you're down there and nobody else is around, so you may or may not hear me singing."
Officials warn that pets and small children may be at a higher risk. "If you have small children or pets, pick them up because they will tend to focus on a child or a pet as a possible food source," said Mohr.
Homeowners can take steps to keep animals away. Don't feed the deer, use landscaping that deer aren't attracted to, and don't leave any pet food outside. When it comes to bears, they like the smelly stuff. "Making sure you don't put the garbage out at night, put it out right at the time that the garbage is going to be collected," explained Mohr.
If you like to stay active and go to the park, there are times you should avoid. "Don't go jogging at dusk or dawn. Make sure you're going with somebody. Don’t go alone. Bicycle with a friend."
If you have a sighting in Chico, you can call animal control at 530-897-4960. To report an encounter, call California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 530-225-2300.