Toshi Myamoto heard the excitement in the voices of his 3-year-old triplets when they yelled, "big bear, big bear," and thought it was because they were still reveling in their recent trip to the mountain community east of Los Angeles.
But when he looked out the sliding glass door Sunday of his family's San Gabriel Valley house, he saw an actual bear sloshing around in the backyard kiddie pool on a 90-degree day. The family grabbed a camera and began recording the playful black bear, but Myamoto drew the line when the children asked whether they could go outside for a closer look.
After rolling around in the pool, the bear shook water out of its fur and climbed a fence, likely headed for the hills above Monrovia. Police told NBC4 they receive about one report of a bear sighting per day in the foothill community, even more on trash pick-up days.
California's black bear population is at about 25,000 to 30,000, with most living in mountain areas above 3,000 feet, according to what the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife calls conservative estimates. In 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.
Less than 10 percent of the state's black bear population lives in the central western and southwestern California region, according to agency estimates. About half of the population resides in an area north and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.