Lake Tahoe Bears – Friend or Foe?

Everybody loves bears; stuffed bears, carved bears, bear jewelry, bear photos and bear stories. When you visit Lake Tahoe you encounter bears everywhere. Why? Because everyone LOVES bears. Or do they?

Annie the bear welcomes all my guests.
Annie the bear welcomes all my guests.

You notice I did not mention ‘live’ bears. My friends and family come to visit Lake Tahoe and buy bear necklaces, bear mugs, and bear sweatshirts, but freak out if they see any of our Lake Tahoe bears walking down the street. First they freeze in fear, then they begin walking slowly backward, before they turn and run full out for the house. This is usually followed by lots of screaming and hyperventilation.

Adult bear across the street from my house.
Adult bear across the street from my house.

Perhaps those who visit Lake Tahoe imagine the Tahoe National Forest operating like a large zoo; the bears stay on their side of the forest and the people stay on theirs. Has anyone mentioned this plan to the Lake Tahoe bears? More aptly, has anyone ask the bears if we could turn their home into a vacation destination, and pave over their food supply?

Bear cubs playing in soccer net at Kahle Community Center in Lake Tahoe
Bear cubs playing in soccer net at Kahle Community Center in Lake Tahoe

*Click on the picture above to see the video*

I LOVE living in Lake Tahoe and yes, I love Lake Tahoe bears. The Tahoe forest is home to the Black Bear whose fur can be blond, brown or black. These bears are generally peace loving and their cubs are playful and energetic. Black bears spend the winter in a state of light hibernation for which they must prepare by eating loads of food during the summer. This foraging for food takes them into populated areas, where they would generally prefer not to be. I don’t know if they like us, but they appear to want to eat and live in peace with us.

This bear cub is sitting in front of a neighbor’s house watching my children play soccer.
This bear cub is sitting in front of a neighbor’s house watching my children play soccer.

What do you think? Do you like bears? Do you hope to see one of our Lake Tahoe bears strolling down the street toward you or would you rather enjoy their beauty from afar….really far? I am interested to know what you think. Please add your comments and questions above.

https://www.yourtahoeplace.com/public-works/waste-not/bear-wildlife-awareness/bear-awareness-program
https://www.yourtahoeplace.com/public-works/waste-not/bear-wildlife-awareness/bear-awareness-program

Avoid Lake Tahoe bears by keeping food in secure bear bins and not in your car or tent. Do not chase down a bear or try to take a selfie with a bear. This could end very badly for you. Please do not try to make Lake Tahoe bears your friend. If a bear frequents populated areas too many times, it could mean the end of his/her life. For more information on our local bear program visit: https://www.yourtahoeplace.com/public-works/waste-not/bear-wildlife-awareness/bear-awareness-program

Young bear down the street from my house
Young bear down the street from my house

If you see one of our beloved Lake Tahoe Bears take the following advice from the US Forest Service.

In Your Yard: Do not run. Be aggressive and assert your dominance by standing tall and making noise that will scare the bear away. Banging pots and pans together and shouting loudly works well.

In the Woods: This is the bear’s territory, respect that and do not run. Make eye contact cut don’t stare, pick up small children, make yourself appear as large as possible, stay calm and quiet, back away and enjoy the experience from a safe distance.

Anywhere: If the bear attempts to get away, do not block the bear’s escape route! Bears will often climb a tree if frightened and usually won’t come down if humans or dogs are present.

For more information regarding Lake Tahoe bear safety please visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go/bears

For more information about black bears: Black Bears (Falcon Pocket Guides) 

Please add your comments and questions to the comment box above.

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