The Double Cone Quarterly
Window to the Wilderness
Spring Equinox 2001 || Volume IV, Number 1

Times Past


Early Reports of Black Bears in the
Santa Lucia Mountains

Compiled by David Rogers, © 2001

As evidenced by the following newspaper articles, it seems that black bears have been attempting to make inroads into the Santa Lucia Mountains for some time.



Salinas Daily Index, July 11, 1912:

FRISKY YOUNG BLACK BEAR CAUGHT

The Animal was Captured Alive by Hunters in the Mountains near Jolon

BRUIN PUT UP A STIFF FIGHT

Its Captor, Louis Sepulveda, a San Jose Policeman,
Proud of His Prowess

Louis Sepulveda, a police officer of San Jose who is a member of a hunting party that is foraging in the mountains in the southern part of this county, caught a live black bear in the mountains near Jolon. The animal is about 3 years old, strong and healthy and showed a decided disposition to resist the officer when he attempted to catch him. Sepulveda was rather badly scratched about the face and hands in the final rush which resulted in the capture of the bear.

The animal was encountered about 7 o'clock on Tuesday evening. He showed no intention of being captured and fought off the men for a long time. Finally he was driven into a corner and Sepulveda succeeded in throwing a large canvas over him and tying his legs before the bear realized what the resourceful sleuth had done.

The animal is now being kept fastened to a tree by a strong chain and it is said that he is becoming reconciled to his fate. He got away with three large beef-stakes yesterday morning for his breakfast, besides eating up all the scraps that come his way. Sepulveda stated that he is planning to take the black bear back with him and place him on expedition. The capture of a bear in this particular section of the state is something that has not occurred for many years, and local hunters are at a loss to understand where the animal could have come from. A short time ago a bear of similar description was reported to have been seen near San Luis Obispo and it is believed by some that the bear had gone on a ramble from his haunts in the Sierras and met his Waterloo near Jolon in this county.



Monterey Peninsula Herald, June 4, 1938:

Rancher Kills Brown Bear Near Big Sur

Bill Post Shoots Animal Which Invaded Cabin and Refused to Get Out;
Origin of Brute Shrouded in Mystery.

To Bill Post, widely known rancher of the Big Sur region, goes the honor of killing the first bear shot in Monterey County in many year. Post killed the animal, a 200 pound brown bear, in the cabin of Mr. and Mrs. Carter, Mule Canyon, Thursday afternoon after the brute had taken possession of the place and refused to get out.

The story begins when the Carter's, who had just moved into the cabin, returned home Thursday afternoon to find the bear in "full control" of the situation. He had raided their grocery supply, scattered flour all over the interior of the building and generally wrecked things.

A warning growl gave Carter the idea that the bear wasn't going to move out peacefully so Post was called in to help. Carter had no rife.

TO THE RESCUE

Post, who enjoys quite a reputation as a hunter and guide, armed Carter with a rifle, took one for himself and they headed for the cabin.

Carter took the first shot and missed but Post's first bullet struck the bear in the head as it attempted to clamber through a window of the cabin and the hunt was over.

But the story isn't, far from it.

Almost immediately a horrid thought struck Post.

"This," said he to himself, "ISN'T the open season for bear."

But since the bear was quite dead it was a little late to begin thinking about open seasons and Post did the next best thing.

"SURRENDERS"

Piling into his car he headed for Monterey, drove to the home of Justice of the Peace Ray Baugh and "gave himself up."

Judge Baugh listened carefully to Post's story of how he came to fracture the bear hunting laws of the sovereign State of California and handed down his verdict which was, in part:

"The game laws don't apply to bears in houses."

So Post went back home, much relived, and shipped the bear's hide off to a taxidermist for tanning and began distributing bear steaks and roasts among the neighbors.

ORIGIN MYSTERY

Exactly where the bear came from and how he happened to be wandering around in Mule Canyon (five miles south of Big Sur) will probably never be known. But there are theories.

One possibility is that the animal was once part of the extensive menagerie of wild life maintained at his San Simeon ranch by William Randolph Hearst, millionaire publisher. The menagerie was broken up some time ago and it is possible the bear either escaped or was freed to roam the Monterey forest.

Another theory is that the animal is one of those "rumored" to have been planted some years ago by George Gordon Moore, Carmel Valley sportsman, who also planted wild goats and Russian wild boars on his Rancho San Carlos. Whether Moore actually did plant bears here, however, is a moot question although there have been persistent reports he or someone else did.

NOT NATIVE

At any rate a brown bear, never native to this county, was killed in Mule Canyon by Bill Post. And there is a rumor that another of the big animals is in the same region. Two of them were reportedly seen near Slate's Springs recently.

The California Grizzly, a much larger and more ferocious bear, was the native animal of this country and in the early days the Spanish Dons entertained themselves with the dangerous sport of lassoing them.

Alejandrino Boronda, whose ranch is some miles below Big Sur, said sometime ago the last Grizzly he knew of in this country lived near the headwaters of Big Creek and was last seen many years ago.

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