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For Immediate Release: 9/19/2016

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Mother Bear and Cubs Shown in New Video in Bay Area State Park


Cyndy Shafer

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KENWOOD, Calif. — Three pairs of glowing eyes lumber past the camera one by one, in a new video showing a mother bear and two cubs at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma County.

The video, captured on August 21 at 9:21 pm., shows all three pairs of eyes together at first, then the mother bear walking slowly by, followed by one, and then a second cub.  The presence of a family reveals that bears are not occasional visitors, but call this Bay Area open space home. Black bears are relatively rare in southern Sonoma County but recently have been turning up on remote-triggered game cameras at Pepperwood Preserve, Hood Mountain Regional Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Bouverie Preserve. A black bear turned up at a Glen Ellen bed-and-breakfast in 1999, but few other sightings have been reported. Some have speculated that the recent bears may be young bears looking to establish new territory, or ones displaced by the recent fires in Lake and Napa counties.

“I was pretty excited when I saw that we had a video of bear cubs and mom. I couldn’t believe our luck,” said California State Parks Environmental Scientist Bill Miller, who installed and manages the camera that has documented a total of 15 bear videos since September 2013. “We definitely have a resident bear now, not just passing through.”

Biologists in adjacent Hood Mountain have also recently documented black bear on wildlife cameras. “We look forward to partnering with California State Parks to secure attractants like garbage and keep these bears out of harm’s way,” said Melanie Parker, Natural Resource Manager for Sonoma County Regional Parks.

The mother and cubs video can be viewed on the California State Parks YouTube channel.  Combined with the 14 other bear videos captured at the same location in the park, the mother bear with her two cubs paint a picture of bears being residents in the wildlands of the Bay Area instead of only visiting occasionally. A compilation of all 15 videos can be viewed here. Sonoma County Parks’ YouTube channel has an additional video of black bears at hood Mountain.

“Our parks are here for wildlife and people, including future generations. I’m happy that kids can grow up in a Bay Area that still supports such amazing wildlife and biodiversity, and visit park wildlands so close to home,” said Cyndy Shafer, Natural Resource Program Manager for the Bay Area District of California State Parks. “The value of undeveloped protected open spaces to connect wildlife populations and allow them to move freely cannot be underestimated.” The ability of plants and animals to move will become more critical in the years to come in the face of climate change.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is one of more than two dozen state parks in the greater Bay Area, covering more than 50,000 acres of public land.

Black bears generally try to avoid humans.  For more information on keeping bears wild, and visiting or living in bear country, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Keep Me Wild webpage.


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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.