Bears: Sightings and Status
In recent years there have been many confirmed sightings in San Diego County:
The black bear is considered a game mammal in California. In 1998 it was estimated that between 17,000 and 23,000 bears inhabited the state. Data indicates that these numbers are stable to slightly increasing (Black Bear Management PlanJuly 1998). See the California Department of Fish & Game Big Game Hunting Information to download a copy of the bear plan.
In the last four years bears have become more visible in San Diego County. Recent sightings are more numerous than over the last 30 years. The occurence of these bears is due to natural range expansion. However, continued range expansion coupled with large areas of suitable habitat within the county will likely result in an expanded breeding population in the future. Reasons for this range expansion are not fully known.
If black bears persist in San Diego County, an extensive public education program must be implemented as soon as possible. This program must include outreach to the backcountry communities where the dissemination of information is problematic. The Museum and the Department of Fish and Game plan to take lead roles by creating and implementing this program.
See larger map showing recent sightings of black bears in San Diego County. (100K)
On May 16, 2000, a black bear was shot when it wandered onto a ranch at Witch Creek near Santa Ysabel, in northeastern San Diego County. The California Fish and Game Department donated the bear to the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Museum researchers examined the bear's carcass and found:
The bear (pictured below) will be on exhibit at the museum as part of BEARS: Imagination and Reality (October 21, 2000 through January 2, 2001).