Bear activists: ‘Our goal is no more killing’ |

Bear activists: ‘Our goal is no more killing’

Save the bears.That’s exactly what a group of Lake Tahoe and Truckee volunteers plan to do. And folks at the California State Department of Fish & Game want to help.Last week, representatives for Fish & Game, as well as several Tahoe locals, met to discuss the future of depredation bear policies in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Truckee area. The meeting arose following the killing of a mother bear and her cub in a Homewood neighborhood in August. Residents and individuals around the lake expressed outrage and concern after a federal trapper with Fish & Game trapped and killed the bear family.”We wanted a chance to talk with Fish & Game and look forward, rather than look back,” said Ann Bryant, a Homewood resident who joined the meeting. “We can’t change the past now, but our goal is no more killing.”So now, rather than just sending out a trapper when a bear problem is reported, trained individuals in association with the Bear Preservation League will be dispatched to the area to try and stop the problem without having to resort to destroying the bear.”If there’s a problem, Fish & Game will call us so we can be the mediary,” Bryant said. “We’ll have a trained volunteer system. Their (Fish & Game’s) dispatch will call me and I’ll call someone trained in that particular area.”The Bear Preservation League was recently established by a group of Tahoe locals following the Homewood bear killings.”We’re a group of concerned people who thought there would be a better way to take care of our wildlife,” said Linda Brown, a member of the league.The focus for this local volunteer bear group is education. If trained individuals can go out to homes where there are nuisance bears and correct the problem or teach the homeowners how to correct the problem, than one less bear will be destroyed.”We can look at what these people are doing to cause the problem and take care of it,” Bryant said.Individuals interested in being a part of the bear intervention team will go through a day-long training session with wildlife experts in cooperation with Fish & Game.”The league will be made up of a lot of people and a part of them will be a team of volunteers that go out and mediate,” Brown said. “We want to really be ready by springtime so when bears are just waking up we’re ready to roll. Teams will be trained and ready to intervene.”Although this team of volunteers is taking shape and officials with Fish & Game are eager to support them, it doesn’t mean that bears will no longer be destroyed.”We can’t force this volunteer group on people,” said Ken Nilsson with the state department of Fish & Game. “When somebody calls up with a problem bear and are willing to get some advice, these local folks can come in and make some suggestions.”However, if an individual wishes to get a permit to have a bear destroyed and doesn’t want to bother with the volunteer group, Fish & Game can issue the permit without dispatching members of the Bear Preservation League.In California, if an individual reports property damage from a bear and wants to obtain a depredation permit to have the animal destroyed they have the legal right to do so.”The policy hasn’t changed. The depredation law still exists,” Nilsson said.Nilsson, however, thinks this new intervention group will help save bears in the long run.”I see this as a real positive step to get some help getting the word out about what causes bear problems,” Nilsson said. “Hopefully we can now nip bear problems in the bud and people will have a good experience at Lake Tahoe and the bears will get to live.”To add to the public’s bear education, both Fish & Game and the Bear Preservation League are putting together Bearfest 99′ for this coming spring. Bearfest is an event to teach people about living with bears, using bear-proof trash cans, what to do when confronted by a bear and how to keep bears off private property.For more information, to volunteer for the Bear Preservation League or for advice on nuisance bears, call 525-4860. Donations may be sent to the Bear Preservation Fund, Truckee Community Foundation, P.O. Box 366 Truckee, CA 96160.Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.comVisitors Guide | News | Diversions | Marketplace | Weather | CommunityCopyright, Materials contained within this site maynot be used without permission.About… 

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