Bear killed for swiping at Tahoe resident
Gun shots were fired by wildlife officials Wednesday evening on Tahoe’s West Shore after a Tahoma resident reported a bear had clawed at her leg, marking the second bear execution of the season in the Tahoe Basin.
The 150-pound yearling black bear had been spotted numerous times outside the residence, playing with a golden retriever that had been tied up for several days in a row, according to a report from the California Department of Fish and Game.
During initial complaints to the BEAR League, Executive Director Ann Bryant said she suggested the woman not tie the dog up, move the dog food indoors and employ aversion tactics to dissuade the young bear from returning.
Despite the BEAR League’s advice, the Tahoma woman continued to leave her four-month-old dog tied up outdoors, resulting in additional encounters with the wild animal, Bryant said.
“In her words, the dog and the bear were playing when she tried to get the dog away from the bear, and the bear ended up swatting at her ankle,” Bryant said.
The woman then contacted the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and the California Department of Fish and Game to report the incident, and the bear was subsequently located and killed in a Tahoma neighborhood at 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to Fish and Game officials.
“Anytime an animal hurts or threatens to hurt a human, it is considered a threat to public safety and those animals are killed,” said Patrick Foy, spokesman for the Fish and Game.
The first bear execution in the Basin occurred earlier this spring after a string of complaints were made about a bear breaking into numerous Timberland homes, Bryant said.
“The West Shore has been known to be very bear friendly and unfortunately that makes it so people don’t have a desire to be tough on the bears,” Bryant said. “You have to enforce boundary lines or the bears will not learn.”
After a record-setting year in 2007 in terms of bear conflicts, wildlife officials and bear advocates have been working on solutions to deter the large mammals, Bryant said.
The BEAR League is currently working with a trash bin manufacturer to retrofit bear-proof dumpsters to make the bins more secure, Bryant said.
“We had really good bear-proof Dumpsters before, but they required humans to proof it correctly, and people weren’t doing it,” she said. “These new dumpsters are smarter than humans.”
The League also hired 50 additional response team members to assist with black bear nuisance calls and property damage incidents, she said.
Fish and Game is also taking steps to avoid a repeat of last year by teaming up with the Nevada Department of Wildlife to share information, personnel, equipment and supplies to address the increasing number of interactions between bears and humans, said Fish and Game spokesperson Steve Martarano.
“We’re tripling our coverage this year in Tahoe,” Martarano said.
Despite last year’s bear problems being higher than any time in the past 20 years, wildlife officials are optimistic the issue won’t be as prevalent this summer.
“We’re not expecting this year to be as bad as the last,” Martarano said. “There haven’t been any fires, the water situation is better and there is an increased presence [of wardens].”
Bryant said she agrees that conditions this year may help reduce the problem, particularly since fruit bushes and vegetation are more abundant than last year.
“If a bear is coming around your house, there is a reason ” some sort of attraction ” and if you can’t find it, call the BEAR League,” Bryant said.