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CA – WILDLIFE – ‘What have we done to our bears?’ Tahoe’s bear tensions are high this summer

Tahoe is bear country. Anyone who has spent a chunk of time up here has their fair share of bear stories. Here are a couple of mine. This summer, I ran into a mama bear and her cubs when I was riding my mountain bike on the trails behind a North Shore neighborhood. I saw another family saunter through the backyards of a West Shore neighborhood. When I walk my dog in the morning, I see the tell-tale signs of a bear’s presence from the night before — a car door swung open, trash in the driveway and trailing out to the street. Last fall, when my parents weren’t at their house in Tahoma, a hungry bear ripped their back door off its hinges, walked inside their house and helped itself to the pantry and the fridge. There was flour everywhere — and that was the easy part of the cleanup. We boarded up the ground-floor windows and all the doors. The next evening, the bear tried to break in again and nearly ripped off the piece of plywood we had nailed over the door frame. Now, my parents have electric wires installed across their doors and windows to keep the bears out. For humans to coexist with bears in Tahoe, bear-proofing your house, your car and your garbage is a normal part of everyday life. This summer, tensions between bears and humans are running especially high. The number of bear-related incidents reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Lake Tahoe are up. In El Dorado County, reports of conflict with bears are double compared to last summer and in Placer County there has been a 25 percent uptick. Ann Bryant, Tahoe’s go-to bear expert, said this summer stands out as “busier, more hectic and more tragic” than all her 25 years of working with bears. “A lot of folks, unfortunately, do not have a clue about the rules for visiting and vacationing and staying in bear country,” Bryant said. “People call because they saw a bear and think he escaped, like, don’t they live in a zoo? What is a bear doing walking loose? It’s just been mind-boggling, the attitude.”  [full article]

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