SIERRA MADRE (CBSLA) — A quiet Sierra Madre neighborhood is still reeling Wednesday after a homeless man was attacked by a bear in a nearby campground.
Residents called 911 at about 11:30 p.m. to report an elderly man they didn’t know running around and ringing doorbells in the 1200 block of Arno Drive. When police officers arrived, they found the 84-year-old man had severe injuries to his head and arm.
The man, who identified himself as John, told police he was in a sleeping bag in the Chantry Flats area when a 200- to 300-pound brown bear attacked him, clawing his face and arm. He was able to get away and run for help on Arno Drive.
John, who said he has lived in the hills for more than a decade, told police he had seen an animal like that in the area before, but never had an encounter like this.
The man declined hospitalization despite suffering deep cuts. However, authorities did get DNA samples from his clothes and sleeping bag.
The bear has not been found, but authorities are in the area searching for it. If the bear is found and matches the DNA sample on John’s clothes, it will be euthanized.
“Unfortunately, with a wildlife attack, we always have to err on the side of caution,” Lt. J.C. Healy with Fish and Wildlife said. “This is a public safety issue. It’s a sad reality, if we do catch the offending animal, most likely it’ll have to be euthanized.”
Sierra Madre, a community in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, is accustomed to bear sightings, especially in the spring as they wake from hibernation. Video shot not long after the attack showed a bear ambling through an area just a few blocks away from where the man ran for help, but it’s not clear if it was the same bear who attacked.