Photo of bear in Vons went viral on Facebook.

Photo of bear in Vons went viral on Facebook.



A small black bear recently went on a late night shopping trip for apples at the Mammoth Lakes Vons. While the photos of the bear inspecting the fresh fruit are entertaining, they also serve as a reminder that we are in the busiest season of the year for bear activity.  They are preparing for winter and gorging on food.  Bears that spend most of the summer in the back country have come to town to feed.

This young bear, which has little fear of humans, has become accustomed to relying on people for food.  He now knows how to get into Vons when the store is open and he’s previously entered homes to feast on pie.  He is likely to return to Vons and if he isn’t properly conditioned to not rely on cars, houses, ice chests, and now supermarkets for food, he will become a problem bear and his future will be bleak.

The public is encouraged to take precautions to secure their trash in locking cans and dumpsters, don’t leave food in vehicles or in the open, lock your vehicle doors, and if you encounter a bear that’s misbehavin’, call Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles at (760) 937-BEAR, or the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.

This is also a busy season for other wildlife.  The deer population has begun its migration to lower elevations and there are many deer in Town.  Please slow down and keep your eyes open for deer on or near the roadway.

(Sierra Wave story)

As Vons employees stocked shelves in the wee hours of this morning, a nearly two-year old bear, familiar to Wildlife Officer Steve Searles walked through the electronic doors to Vons and helped himself to some apples.

One of the Vons workers, Margie Castaneda, shot a photo, which is posted on our website. She posted the cute image of the young bear on Facebook and it went viral. Steve Searles said the bear image went all over the world. He said it is one of the cubs that survived after its mother was killed in a traffic accident last year. Searles said the bear grew up with another mother bear. He called it a very tame animal.

This season, the bear walked into homes where the doors were open and took a loaf of bread and some fruit. Mammoth Police, Searles and Fish and Wildlife had a meeting and talked about possibly having to destroy the little bear if he persisted in his home invasions.

Searles said the bear quit entering homes and spent the last two months in the Lakes Basin. He only just returned to town a week ago. Vons employees peacefully coaxed the bear outside this morning after his 1am entrance into the grocery store.

Steve Searles said all bears will go into hibernation in about 30 days, and he hopes the town’s people will pull together to help this bear survive. If residents keep their house doors and car doors locked, that will help. Searles is working on modifying the bear’s behavior with his usual methods. He points out that he has been able to change the ways of a number of problem bears.

So, help the little guy by making it hard for him to get in where he doesn’t belong.

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