KEEPING A WATCHFUL EYE\Bear scare shuts Castaic campground.
A Castaic Lake campground was evacuated and closed Tuesday after campers reported seeing a bear near the recreation area, authorities said.
The animal was spotted about midnight on a knoll above the recreational vehicle campground near the lower lagoon off Lake Hughes Road, said Ed Entwisle, assistant chief of the Los Angeles County Park Police.
Lake officials searched the area Tuesday, but were unable to find any signs that a bear had been there.
Nevertheless about 100 yards from where the campers believe they saw the bear, there was no warning for anglers who said they should have been told.
"It would scare the heck out of me if I saw it," said Noel Bordoff, of Simi Valley. "If I had known about it, I might not have stayed here to fish."
Danny Real, who lives across the street from the park and who was fishing Tuesday, said he was also unaware a bear might have been seen.
"I would have like to have known," he said. "I have kids who play here. I know I'll look over my shoulder now."
California Department of Fish and Game officials were notified, but said they would not respond unless the bear threatened someone or caused damage in the area. It was unclear when park officials were planning to reopen the campground.
"Evidently there were three carloads of people camped in the RV area on the north end of the lake when late last night they saw something that appeared to be a large animal about 100 yards away on a knoll," Entwisle said. "It scared them, so they packed into their cars and left their camping equipment still out."
Park police searched the area, but were unable to find any sign of the animal, Entwisle said. Frank Gonzales, park superintendent, said he requested the area be evacuated as a safety precaution.
"Right now we are scouring the area for it," Gonzales said Tuesday morning.
When it was daylight, park rangers once again searched the area.
"There was no indication of tracks this morning," Entwisle said. "At this point, we can't be sure it was a bear."
Nonetheless, Entwisle said park officials are ruling on the side of caution and will continue keeping a close eye on the campground and surrounding areas. "It's better to be safe," he added.
Entwisle, who has been in the area for 20 years, said he couldn't remember the last time there was a bear sighting at the lake.
Pat Moore, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game, said it wouldn't be uncommon to see a black bear in the area since it's situated next to the Angeles National Forest.
Moore said his agency was notified of the Castaic sighting, but opted not to respond because nobody was injured and the bear hasn't been seen since.
"Most often, we would roll in a situation if a bear was where it shouldn't be . . . like a housing tract across the freeway," Moore said.
Nonetheless, if a bear was located, Moore said he agency would try to tranquilize the animal first to transport it back into the wilderness, away from people.
Photo (Color only in SAC edition) Simi Valley anglers Noel Bordoff, back, and Stan Fried were surprised to hear Tuesday of the possible bear sighting at Castaic Lake. Dusty Locke/Special to the Daily News