Six bears left trash scattered in a Monrovia neighborhood early Monday morning as they searched for discarded food and an easy snack.
The bears were caught on camera, tipping over trash bins and eating whatever they found inside in the 1000 block of Norumbega Drive and other locations in the foothill area northeast of Los Angeles. Bears are seen regularly in the community at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains.
They likely returned later Monday morning to the wildnerness area.
Bears like to feed on plants, insects, nuts, berries and whatever else they think of as edible -- such as the contents of trash bins. If food is scarce in their natural habitat, bears are likely to forage elsewhere, bringing them into Southern California foothill neighborhoods.
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California's black bear population has been on the rise over the last two decades, growing from an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 in the early 1980s to between 25,000 and 30,000 -- and that's a conservative estimate, according to the state department of fish and wildlife. They're good climbers who can easily scale a tree if they can't outrun a predator or just need some alone time.
The state has two subspecies of black bear -- the California black bear and the northwestern black bear. About half of the state's bear population can be found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and areas to the north and west. Only an estimated 10 percent of the black bear population inhabits central western and southwestern California.
It's extremely rare for black bears to attack humans in California, but it's best to follow these safety tips if you encounter a bear on a camping trip or in your neighborhood -- especially if it's a protective mother with her cubs.
Although it's on the state flag, the fearsome grizzly bear no longer can be found in the California wild. The last grizzly bear observed in California was shot in the early 1920s.