A black bear marauding near San Luis Obispo High School early Wednesday morning broke into a chicken coop at a residence and killed one bird before police drove the animal away using pepper balls.
“It’s been an exciting day,” homeowner Sue Roberts said.
The family was awakened after midnight by a ruckus in the backyard of its home in the 1800 block of San Luis Drive. Roberts looked out and saw a large black bear standing on its hind legs.
“He was holding the coop on both sides and shaking it,” she said.
The bear then ripped the coop door open, and attacked and ate one of the three chickens in the coop. The other chickens escaped.
Recently, the chicken killed by the bear had been attacked by a dog and was already in bad shape, Roberts said. Police arrived and shot the bear with pepper balls, a nonlethal projectile, and drove it back over the fence.
The bear easily scaled a 6-foot-tall fence around the property. Roberts thinks the animal was attracted to the area by a neighbor’s avocado tree.
The bear milled around in a neighbor’s yard before retreating into the hills behind the neighborhood. The whole incident lasted about a half an hour, Roberts said.
“I’m worried about him coming back because he just got one chicken and I have two left,” she said. “And the coop is kind of rickety right now.”
She has good reason to be concerned. Police say the neighborhood experienced repeated visits from a bear last year. Professional trappers hired by the state Department of Fish and Game unsuccessfully tried to catch the bear.
Male black bears average 250 pounds and are about 3 feet tall. Females weigh about 100 pounds less, according to the American Bear Association.
Black bears are well established in San Luis Obispo County. The state Fish and Game Commission last year attempted to hold a bear hunt in the county but withdrew the proposal when it faced a strong public outcry.
Los Osos Valley is so named because of the high number of bears that once lived in that area. “Osos” means bear in Spanish.