San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Related story: Agencies' differing policies likely cause of bear-alert delay
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Article Published: Monday, August 18, 2003 - 10:50:22 PM PST

Menacing bear killed
2 attacks reported at campsite during July
By Diana L. Roemer, Staff Writer

Shane Henry
Shane Henry headed to 'Little Jimmy' campground in the San Gabriel Mountains last July 3rd. After setting his pack on a picnic table he was knocked over by a bear attempting to get his pack. (Staff photo by Greg Andersen)
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST -- A bear that attacked a hiker and a Girl Scout troop to get their food was trapped and killed by officers at a mountain campsite, officials said Monday.

California Department of Fish and Game officials said they set a trap for the animal July 30 after receiving two July reports about a "vicious' California Black Bear knocking down campers to get their food at Little Jimmy Campground, off Angeles Crest (2) Highway north of Azusa.

A reportedly healthy bear believed to be the culprit because of a description given by campers was killed July 31 by Fish and Game officers after he was trapped, said California Fish and Game spokeswoman Lorna Bernard.

No one was seriously injured in the July 3 and July 23 attacks, which Bernard said are the first reported attacks in California since 2001.

But the July 23 attack was called "vicious' and "disturbing' by campers who witnessed it.

A group of Girl Scouts, along with an off-duty U.S. Forest Service employee and his wife, were preparing to camp at the remote site, said Martin Wall, a Fish and Game patrol officer.

Campers reported a bear came crashing into their site.

"A small, brown (colored) bear ... entered the camp and proceeded to 'attack' anything and everything manmade,' Wall said the campers told him. The bear approached with its head down while making a low- pitched moaning sound, Wall wrote in his report.

In the earlier reported attack, Pasadena backpacker Shane Henry, 31, decided to settle at the campground at about 8 p.m.

Three minutes after he set his backpack on a picnic table he heard movement behind him.

"I was knocked down. The bear was standing over me, he ambled over to my pack and started to drag it away,' Henry said. "I think that campground was his haunt.'

Henry, who said he received bruises from the attack, got to his feet, yelled, shouted and threw rocks at the 6-foot-tall bear he estimated at 300 pounds, to make him give back the backpack.

Eventually the bear let go of the pack, which contained peanut butter and honey sandwiches packed in plastic bags, Henry said. Henry retrieved it, saying he wasn't scared, just mad. But he went home that night, he said.

Henry said he talked to Wall about the incident. "In talking to Fish and Game, apparently that's happened before at that campground. There's been bears there rooting through people's stuff,' he said.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Gail Wright said throwing rocks at a bear is not behavior officials recommend. "I wouldn't wrestle with a bear,' Wright said.

She said people need to be extremely cautious, especially with food. There are about 200 bears throughout the forest, she said.

About 35,000 bears are in the state's forests, Bernard said, the most in the state's history. Only 11 bear attacks since 1980 have been reported in California.

But Wall and other officials say that bear's behavior was too unusual. "This is a bear that's gone a step further ... a little proactive in the food-gathering process,' Wall said.

"What if a little kid had a sandwich in his hand ... he'd knock the kid down, take the sandwich and maybe the hand ... he doesn't care.'


Wire services contributed to this report.

Diana L. Roemer can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2105, or by e- mail at diana.roemer@sgvn.com.

Related story: Agencies' differing policies likely cause of bear-alert delay

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