Sonoma County neighborhoods are buzzing with bears
SEBASTOPOL, Calif. - Sonoma County has had some unusual tourist sightings: Bears.
Both Cotati and Sebastopol are buzzing about bears wandering into neighborhoods.
"I usually come out and taunt bears at night but I'm not going to do that now obviously,", Sebastopol resident Steve Ausburne.
He lives in the rural area where a bear was captured on a trail camera.
Sebastopol police have shared the bear's picture on Facebook with a pun-laden message.
"We are bearing witness to something unusual," reads the post.
He's "lost his bearings" and "embearassingly landed in town."
But levity aside, the department wants people to be aware.
"We want them to be cognizant of their surroundings when they put the garbage out, let their pets out, or their children are outside, anything like that," said Sebastopol Police Chief Kevin Kilgore.
Rural residents need little convincing.
"I have a little dog, so I'm a little concerned about that and will keep my door closed at night," said Malia Miracle, who lives near the Hessel Road bear sighting.
California Fish and Game officials have noticed an uptick in bear encounters in recent years.
Spring is when young males separate from their mothers to find their own territory.
Sometimes they become disoriented, and when foraging for meals, will end up far from their remote habitat.
In Sebastopol's case, the bear made his way to the edge of city limits.
"It's something you'd expect to see up in Lake Tahoe area, I can't even think what it's doing around here," said Dan Peter, of Sebastopol, bemused by the sighting.
"With natural disasters such as wildfires or drought, bears are looking for places to get food," noted Kilgore.
Cotati's nocturnal visitor was even more recent, caught on a ring camera about 12:30 a.m. Monday, in a neighborhood near West Cotati Avenue.
Cotati police posted the video on Facebook, calling the bear Yogi and warning residents against trying to take selfies with it.
Healdsburg also had a wayward bear a few years ago, roaming only a block from downtown until police nudged him back in the direction of Fitch Mountain.
Sebastopol's bear hasn't made it to the business district.
"I would probably keep an eye out anyway and we keep our trash under control," said David Goodwin of Sebastopol.
"I'll be looking around my perimeter for signs of broken fence or anything like that."
The police punster says "as fur as we can tell he pawsitively doesn't mean any harm."
The chief isn't so sure.
"I think it's always best to err on the side of caution and just assume that any type of wildlife is going to be aggressive," said Kilgore.
He urges anyone who spots a bear to call authorities immediately and get inside or out of sight.
Many residents are finding humor In the situation.
"My first thought was, 'Oh I've never really seen a bear, and then my next thought was 'I don't know if I want to see a bear'" said Ausburne, "so it's a wrestling match internally."
California is home to only one species: the black bear and they can be black, brown, blonde, or cinnamon in color.