And this black bear — described as 3 to 4 feet tall and weighing about 200 pounds — has a fondness for hummingbird sugar water and a taste for honey. This dietary insight is based on its snacking habits during multiple visits over the course of at least six months to the Chevy Chase Canyon neighborhood.
“I was kind of surprised another bear is back,” said resident Suzanne Whitman, whose bird feeder was knocked down at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday at her home on Chevy Chase Drive. The bear, she said, visited her home twice last year.
The bear may also be responsible for destroying Herbert Harder’s small apiary, which contained seven beehives that he had maintained for 30 years in his backyard. Harder hasn’t replaced the hives and isn’t entirely sure he wants to take the risk.
It only took three visits for the bear to completely decimate Harder’s honey crop and population of bees, he said. But the bear’s fourth visit was the most devastating, since it tore apart several hives and sent others rolling down a steep hillside.
Harder’s hummingbird feeders also found themselves on the bear’s menu.
According to residents, the bear visited the Chevy Chase Canyon neighborhood at least seven times last year, including a foray into a trash bin for chicken, rice and baklava.
Other trash runs, door-pawing and sunbathing sightings have prompted varied police responses, including a helicopter search and the use of air horns and flood lights.
After spending winter in their dens, bears typically leave their hide-outs around spring and begin foraging for food, said wildlife biologist Kevin Brennan of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A bear usually starts feeding on grass, but an urban bear may yearn for something a little tastier — and fattier.
Human garbage, Brennan said, is higher in protein fat than a bear’s natural diet, making the human food irresistible.
“Bears are smart animals and they go back to those sources,” Brennan added.
With a very acute sense of smell, bears will go virtually anywhere and put up with almost anything to reach a source of tasty food, he added.
While state wildlife officials were aware of a bear’s past visits to the Chevy Chase Canyon area, they had not received any recent reports, Brennan said. Still, he added, “They are creatures of habit.”
Harder said he wants the bear to be trapped and relocated just like Meatball, who was moved to an animal sanctuary in San Diego County after twice being relocated deep within Angeles National Forest.
“He is going to stay here until he destroys everything or hurts someone,” Harder said.
The gender of the bear has yet to be verified.
But trapping and relocating doesn’t work, Brennan said, noting the persistence of Meatball.
“The issue is not the bears. The issue is improper storage of garbage,” he said.
Whitman, a neighborhood watch block captain, has urged neighbors to keep their trash bins covered and small children and animals inside at night.
In her 25 years of living in the canyon, she said she has never before had visits from a bear.
“It’s a little too much nature,” Whitman said.