It looks like U.C. Berkeley alumni may not be the only bears currently living in Marin.
Even though no one has yet seen it with their own eyes, there is reason to believe that a black bear is currently inhabiting Marin County's Mt. Tamalpais.
"There have been a number of independent observations of bear scat on both sides of Kent Lake," said Libby Pischel, a Marin Municipal Water District spokeswoman.
"We haven't had any sightings of a bear, but it does look like bear scat," said Mike Swezy, the water district's natural resource specialist, adding that there were no plans to test the material. "It is likely from a bear. It would make sense."
Multiple sightings of bear waste have been reported since the end of the August, not only on the shores of the West Marin lake, but also on the nearby San Geronimo Ridge and Big Carson Canyon.
California's black bear population is at an all-time high, tripling from 10,000 to 30,000 since the 1980s. The animals, which can weigh up to 350 pounds, currently make their homes in the widest swath of the state than they have in over 150 years. Black bears have been sighted everywhere from California's southern edge to its very northern tip.
Department of Fish And Game Statewide Bear Coordinator Marc Kenyon told Bay Nature that, while black bears would be able to live in Marin County, "habitat fragmentation and the plethora of freeways" make it a relatively inhospitable locale.
Marin's substantial black bear population was thought to have been completely eliminated due to extensive hunting by humans; however, multiple black bear sightings near Point Reyes were reported in 2003.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the 2003 sighting:
[Point Reyes National Seashore Wildlife Biologist Dr. Natalie] Gates said the bear sighted Sunday, described as about 2 1/2 feet at the shoulder and about 200 pounds, is probably a young male that has been displaced by older rivals and is staking out his own habitat. Most likely, this one wandered south from Occidental in Sonoma County, where black bears are frequently sighted.
Prior to that sighting, the last time a black bear was seen in Marin County was in 1863.
California black bares aren't considered dangerous. While there have been ten black bear attacks in the state over the past decade, none were fatal. In fact, not a single person has been killed by black bear in California in over a century.
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