Many residents in Sierra Madre are familiar with John Wiedeman, according to authorities.
“(Wiedeman) has lived in the mountains, by choice, for a long while,” Sgt. Edward DelCoure told Patch.
The octogenarian, as per typical, was snoozing in his sleeping bag overnight in the hills above Santa Anita Avenue. For unknown reasons, a bear attacked him just before midnight Tuesday, authorities said. After the bear attacked, he headed down into town looking for help and arrived at a resident’s front porch on Arno Drive.
The resident then called the police, and upon learning Wiedeman had been injured, paramedics were also called. Medics noted superficial, non-life threatening wounds on his face and arms. He was treated at the scene though he declined a trip to the hospital, according to DelCoure.
This is the first time he’s come into town for help after a bear attack.
Though Wiedeman said that the bear followed him as he fled and that he “hid behind a gate” waiting for it to leave, there was no sign of the bear, according to police. His injuries didn’t stop him from returning to where he is most comfortable, in the mountains, according to reader reports.
Residents familiar with Wiedeman said over Facebook that he is often seen near the library during the day and that by 10 a.m. Wednesday, he was seen off Mount Wilson Trail, bouldering.
Though media resources captured footage of a tagged bear in the area, there was no indication that the bear was behaving aggressively. Fish and Wildlife officers are handling the investigation in seeking.
An 84-year-old homeless man camping in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles woke Tuesday night to find a bear rummaging through his camp, KTTV reported.
“He reached out, extended his hand so the bear could smell him,” said Lt. J.C. Healy, a California Fish and Wildlife spokesman, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
That’s when the intruder, described as a 200- to 300-pound bear, attacked, seriously injuring the man’s head and arm, KCBS reported.
“He believes the bear may have been playing with him, but when he tried to swat it away, it took a swipe at him,” said Sgt. Charles Kamchamnan of the Sierra Madre Police Department, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The man fled to a nearby neighborhood in Sierra Madre, where he hid behind a gate while the bear, which had followed him, wandered around before leaving, KNBC reported.
Residents called 911 to report the man running around the neighborhood ringing doorbells, KCBS reported. The man declined to go to a hospital but was treated by paramedics.
“He was lucky,” Kamchamnan said, the Los Angeles Times reported. “It could have been much worse.”
State Fish and Wildlife officers will look for the bear and compare DNA taken from the man’s sleeping bag and clothes to find a match, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
“Unfortunately, with a wildlife attack, we always have to err on the side of caution,” Healy said, KCBS reported. “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.”
The man, who declined to give his name to the media, said he had observed wildlife in the past while camping in the area since 2002 but had never been attacked, the Los Angeles Times reported.