Wandering bear roams Bay Area neighborhood blocks from busy strip mall

Isaura M. League


A black bear was caught on a resident's security camera in Fairfield, Calif., in May 2022.

A black bear was caught on a resident’s security camera in Fairfield, Calif., in May 2022.

Fairfield Police Department/Handout

A black bear has been spotted in recent weeks wandering several densely populated Bay Area neighborhoods, including one not far from a bustling shopping area with a busy In-N-Out drive-thru. 

According to Fairfield police, the bear was reported at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday near Woodcreek Park. The west side of the neighborhood abuts the farms and rolling hills of Suisun Valley and the east side quickly turns into traffic-filled city roads, strip malls and I-80 beyond. A few weeks prior, a bear was seen several times in the neighborhoods along North Orchard Avenue in Vacaville; it’s not clear if this is the same bear, but black bears can cover between five and 20 miles per day. 

“My neighbor’s light came on and I see this big animal,” resident Rich Doyle told ABC10, “and I’m thinking, that’s no darn dog!”

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 black bears currently living in the state. As humans encroach on their territory, bear appearances in neighborhoods have become more common. Wildfire and drought can also push them into urban areas in search of food and water. 

“California Fish and Wildlife was notified about the bear and are monitoring the situation. There is not a plan to capture and relocate the bear currently,” Fairfield police Lt. Kelly Rombach told SFGATE. “We hope the bear returns to a more remote and suitable environment naturally.”
Rombach noted that California law bans bear hunting in Solano County. Residents worried about bear activity should ensure their pets are kept indoors and that any possible food, like easily accessible trash cans or rotting fruit falling from trees, is safely locked away. 


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