May 2, 2014 7:05 PM
The City of Chico Animal Services and Chico Parks Department, along with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning residents there is expected to be a larger than usual number of bear and mountain lion sightings and encounters this year due to the dry winter season.
According to a press release, sightings alone are not a cause for concern because most wildlife naturally fears humans, keep their distance and will not bother you – as long as they remain fully wild. But wildlife that has become conditioned to humans - especially when it comes to food sources – can become a nuisance, and may eventually have to be destroyed to ensure public safety.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to know how to prevent situations that could lead to conflicts with wildlife. Something as simple as a bag of garbage, bowl of pet food, or feeding other wildlife may attract bears or mountain lions to your property. It’s also important to know what to do if there is an encounter with wildlife.
Prevention is key, for both bears and mountain lions, it’s important to remove food sources, including keeping pets and pet food inside, and not feeding other wildlife. Mountain lions are attracted by deer, so landscape your yard with plants deer don’t eat, and don’t feed deer, which is illegal in California.
Bears are attracted to anything edible or smelly. Besides not feeding pets outside or feeding other wildlife, how you handle your trash is especially important. Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection, keep cans clean and deodorized with ammonia or bleach, and if bears are a real problem, purchase a bear-proof garbage container.