Local News Matters weekly newsletter

Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.

In the past month, bears have been spotted in some urban areas of Solano County — whether it’s the same bear remains to be seen, but since one was spotted in Fairfield and the other in Vallejo, it’s safe to say the beasties didn’t hitchhike.

A bear that has been seen “loitering” in the western part of Fairfield prompted the police department to issue a press release this week to assure residents that yes, they knew about it, no, it probably won’t hurt you, and please stop calling dispatch to report it.

“Let a bear be a bear,” said Fairfield Police Department spokesperson Lt. Jausiah Jacobsen.

But was this bear being a bear? Most bears are solitary creatures that stick to the wilderness. Why would a bear venture into the big city?

Ken Paglia from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says there are several reasons that a bear might wander down to the bright lights, and they all have one thing in common: the effect of humans upon their environment.

“If the bear presents aggressive behaviors, please call. If the bear is minding his own bear business, please let the bear be.”

Lt. Jausiah Jacobsen, Fairfield Police Department

Man-made climate change has led to drought and wildfires, which has led to less food for bears. Their territory has also been slowly encroached upon by development. They are also just waking up from their hibernation, stretching, and hungry.

“Across the board we are starting to see a little bit more wildlife in urban areas because of this,” said Paglia. “It is going to start happening more often.”

The good news is that most bears do indeed just want to be bears and will not be aggressive towards people. They are foraging for food, said Paglia. Garbage cans, pet food, and even fruit trees can be a draw.

That’s not to say that bears are completely harmless. A bear was blamed for the death of a family goat in Solano County in 2021.

Anyone who spots a bear should use care and not approach it. And definitely do not try to take a selfie with one, as the Fairfield Police cautioned.

“We can all do our part to minimalize any conflicts,” said Paglia.

Fish and Wildlife could not supply a current population count of bears in Solano County, but there may be as many as 35,000 black bears in the state, according to experts.

“If the bear presents aggressive behaviors, please call,” said Fairfield Police Lt. Jacobsen. “If the bear is minding his own bear business, please let the bear be.”

Which is a good rule of thumb most everything, really.