The split rail fencing cracked under the weight of the foraging bear. The overturned garbage can be seen through the slats at the Wheeler property. Photo by Glenda Svendsen

Hungry bear visits two northern Susanville homes near Ranch Park

Ken and Catherine Wheeler have lived on a postcard-worthy homestead near Susanville’s Ranch Park for 48 years. They’ve raised German shepherds, tomatoes, apples and four daughters on their land. Wildlife abounds and sightings of squirrels, owls or deer are not infrequent. However, visits from bears are very rare — about once in nearly half a century actually.

On Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Wheelers awoke to find a branch on an heirloom apple tree busted and tell-tale signs of bear scat throughout their property. The bear also managed to bust a section of split rail fencing while foraging on garbage.

However, the fenced off vegetable garden remained intact.

“A bigger bear could have busted through the barrier to the garden,” Ken said.

Catherine shared concerns that parents, faculty and students at the nearby elementary school should be aware of the presence of bears in the area.

“Families walking in the meadow and dog walkers should be on the lookout, too,” she adds.

Neighbor Dan Anderson has lived just down the way from the Wheeler’s for 27 years. He noted that the culprit had been feasting on his pear tree.

“There may have been a couple of bears from the look of things,” Anderson observed.

Anderson said this is the first time evidence of bear activity has been discovered on his property as well.

There was damage to Anderson’s pear tree and numerous piles of scat causing Anderson to suspect more than one culprit.