Was there a Black Bear Wandering around Bel Air?
It was April 17th, 2006 when a contractor working on a Bel Air home looked over into Stone Canyon and swore he saw a bear. He immediately reported it to the LA Department of Water & Power, who own and operate the reservoir and in turn told the California Department of Fish & Game.
Harry Morse from Fish & Game told LAist that no records could be found of the report, but said that doesn't mean it didn't happen. If no human interaction occurred and it was just a sighting, then the report never makes the state's database and stays with local warden, who has since retired.
"We're handling bear calls all the time," Morse said, pointing out all the recent sighting highlighted by the news. "There is no shortage of [North American Black] Bears in the state. We estimate it has gone from 10,000 in the 1980's to 30,000 to 35,000 statewide these days."
Many are suspicious about the 2006 sighting, but they do recognize that it's possible. "Normally I tend to be very skeptical when it comes to wildlife reports by the public, because if you believed them all, there would be eagles nesting in Hollywood, mountain lions on the Ballona Wetlands, etc," explained wildlife ecologist Dan Cooper in an e-mail. Bears, especially the now extinct-from-California Grizzly Bears, used to live in the Santa Monica Mountains, were here until hunters and development pushed them out.