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El Dorado Hills man’s morning interrupted by swimming bear at Folsom Lake

The bear that made Tony Mygatt’s Saturday on Folsom Lake memorable heads for shore.
The bear that made Tony Mygatt’s Saturday on Folsom Lake memorable heads for shore. Special to The Bee

Tony Mygatt was reading a book Saturday morning when a bear started toward him.

There was no need to panic, however. Mygatt, an El Dorado Hills landscape designer, was safely sitting in a boat on Folsom Lake and the bear was up to his ears in water, intent on getting to land.

“I was in a little cove and I looked over my shoulder and saw an object swimming toward me,” Mygatt said Tuesday.

At first he thought it might be a coyote, but the snout of the animal was kind of squat. Mygatt knew it wasn’t a deer because he had seen them swimming in the lake before.

As it swam closer, he realized it was Ursus americanus.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, it’s a bear!’ ” Mygatt said.

He scurried to get his phone to record the bear dog-paddling ever closer to his vessel. The bear, which had been heading straight for his boat, then turned when it saw him get up.

He snapped a picture and made a short video. The bear then made it to the shoreline and scampered into the woods surrounding the cove.

“It was amazing watching it run up the hillside,” Mygatt said. “They are fast.”

Bears like to swim and are at home in the water, whether they’re snagging fish or powerfully swimming across ponds, lakes and rivers to get to better feeding grounds, according to the website bearlife.org.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates 25,000 to 30,000 bears live in the state.

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