Alpine Meadows trap enrages neighbors | SierraSun.com

Alpine Meadows trap enrages neighbors

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun
Alex Close/Sierra Sun file photoA bear cub in a trap awaits a deadly fate outside a Squaw Valley home. Bears that are trapped must be destroyed, since after a bear is trapped it can never be lured into a trap again.
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It is high bear season in the Sierra, and Alpine Meadows in particular is seeing a lot of shaggy traffic this month.

But it’s not the bears themselves that are unwelcome.

Some residents of Alpine Meadows say they were maddened by a trap a neighbor set for a bear they believe was killed earlier in the week by a car.

“You don’t even know if you’re getting the right bear. So all these innocent bears are getting killed,” said Alpine Meadows resident Loni Johnson. “I’m just sick: Four bears [have been killed by traps or cars]. These people don’t even live here.”

By Tuesday afternoon, however, no bear had been lured inside the trap. Once a bear has entered a trap set by the California Department of Fish and Game, the permit requested by the homeowner is considered filled and the bear is taken away to be killed, according to Fish and Game.

“There are precautions we can take,” Johnson said. “I just want to bring the attention that people are driving too fast and there are things people can do to keep [bears] out.”

Johnson lives in the area year-round, but when she leaves town she said she takes the proper steps to bear-proof her home. She hangs sheets over the first-floor windows so bears can’t peek inside, sprays Pine-Sol around doorways and leaves talk radio playing loudly.

Johnson also uses a “bear un-welcome mat” made of plywood studded with screws and nails.

BEAR League Executive Director Ann Bryant agreed that bears themselves aren’t the problem. Earlier in July a bear trap was set in the West Shore neighborhood of Rubicon, and an innocent bear from Nevada was trapped and subsequently killed.

“It’s very seldom they get the target bear,” Bryant said.

The BEAR League has received numerous calls from people upset about the trap set Monday on John Scott Trail in Alpine Meadows.

“All it does is create a big problem for no reason, because there’s no problem there right now,” Bryant said. “It will draw in new bears ” it’s got food in it. Whatever bear goes in will be an innocent bear, lured, and be killed.”

Bryant also said bear deaths by way of car crashes are more than triple this summer compared to last. Typically she and her volunteers track and record data about the weight, age and gender of bears killed on the road, but this year there have been too many to track accurately.

At a record low, five bears were hit by cars last summer. This year the number is up closer to 20, Bryant estimated.

“There have been so many this year it’s out of control,” she said.

The increase in accidents could be attributed to the number of bears displaced by not only the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe but also because of the lightning fires last week throughout Tahoe National Forest, Bryant said.

Bryant said residents should take typical precautions to protect their homes from bears ” secure garbage, remove food from unoccupied homes, make doors and windows inaccessible ” and never, ever feed the bears.