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Intersections: A history of living with wild neighbors

March 19, 2012|By Liana Aghajanian
(Roger Wilson/Staff…)

A fridge-raiding, meatball-eating, orange-picking bear is on the loose. He's hungry, evasive and still around, even after a city official politely declared on a nightly news broadcast last week that the the city would “rather he went somewhere else.”

Clocking in at more than 200 pounds, the black bear in search of a balanced diet might have been a big news generatorbut for longtime residents like Carole Dougherty, it's nothing that unusual. A founding member of the Glendale Historical Society who has lived in the area for 40 years, she said she spotted a bobcat on her upper terrace a month ago, which proceeded to press its paws against her French doors and look inside the house.

Last December, a mountain lion made an exciting appearance in her yard. A decade before, her husband found a rattlesnake in their bedroom.

A look into Glendale News-Press and Los Angeles Times archives at Glendale Central Library's Special Collections Archives reveals over a century of animal encounters in the city’s history — as far back as the 1880s, when a number of ostriches escaped from a railroad car near the Burbank city line, and were later transferred to Griffith Ranch. The rogue birds served as the inspiration for the Cawston Ostrich Farm in nearby South Pasadena, the first of its kind in America.

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In the early 1900s, Glendale was home to the third largest number of pigeon lofts in the country, with a record 9,000 birds. Lest you think Jewel City pigeons were ordinary, by 1928, some had won several prizes and awards in homing-pigeon races that spanned several hundred miles.

In the ‘50s, mountain lions emerged, with residents complaining about the “roars of a mountain lion” that had been spotted three times in 1956. Deer also began venturing down, eating ivy in fenced yards and “quenching their thirst from lawn sprinklers.”

Decades later, new chemicals were being used to curb deer invasions that residents asserted cost hundreds of dollars in flowers and foliage.

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