Bear with a taste for SLO chickens to be killed

A black bear prowling neighborhoods around San Luis Obispo High School has developed an unhealthy taste for chicken.

On Monday night, a bear that’s already raided three chicken coops raided a fourth. This time it killed five chickens, said Bob Stafford, biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game.

Stafford has issued a depredation permit that will allow the bear to be trapped and killed. Officials had hoped that repeated hazings of the bear with pepper balls and other methods would persuade it to leave the area, but that has not happened.

One of the homeowners who was a victim of the marauding bear asked that a depredation permit be issued. A federally licensed trapper will use a culvert trap, which is a baited pipe equipped with a trap door that swings shut when the bear pulls on the bait. After the bear has been euthanized, Stafford will take hair samples for genetic analysis and dispose of the carcass.

Officials have become concerned about the bear’s behavior in recent weeks. In addition to attacking chicken coops, the animal has been increasingly difficult to scare off.

“It runs off into the bushes, watches and then it comes back,” Stafford said. “It seems pretty intent on staying where it is.”

Occasionally, game officials will tranquilize and relocate a bear that has wandered into a neighborhood. But this technique is not effective with animals that have a well-developed pattern of marauding.

In 2009, Stafford relocated a troublesome bear from Santa Margarita to a Fish and Game reserve near the Carrizo Plain, a distance of about 30 miles. Ten days later, the bear was back in Santa Margarita.

“We could move this bear to anywhere in San Luis Obispo County, and it would likely be back in a week,” Stafford said.