Both the American black bear (Ursus americanus) population in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles County, California, USA, and the human population at the base of these mountains have grown, and human–bear interactions are common. Little is known about the habits of urban bears in southern California. From July 1998 to December 1999, I studied the activity patterns of urban black bears in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and described their use of adjacent cities. I trapped and radiocollared 2 female and 4 male bears and monitored their movements in forest and city habitats using ground-based and aerial radiotracking. The female bears used city habitat all seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) of this study, with the exception of the second fall season by one female. Male bears used city habitat during summer, with little exception. Female bears used city habitat equally during 4 6-hr periods daily in summer 1998 and used the city heaviest from 1600–0359 hr in spring 1999 and from 2200–0959 hr in summer 1999. Male bears used city habitat most during the 2200–0359 hr period. Bears were most active in cities during late night when human activity was minimal. Public education efforts to inform residents about activities and behaviors to reduce bear attractants appeared to be successful, are supported by the Department's current black bear policy, and indicate that a focus on human education and enforcement of attractant containment and removal are necessary for minimizing bear–human conflict.
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Vol. 16 • No. 2