October 11, 2007
A correction must be made from last weeks Bear Report. The mantra of no bear in history in all of California and Nevada ever having killed a person has been repeated so many times that this writer assumed all readers knew this meant black bears in these two states. It is true that no black bear in all of California and Nevada has ever killed a person, and it is also true that black bears in other areas have. All attempts will be made to never again assume that all readers are up to speed on previous shared facts. It is indeed true that slightly over three dozen people have been killed by black bears in North America in the last century. To put this into perspective, for each of the people who were killed by a black bear, 90,000 people died by being deliberately murdered by another person. Hundreds of people died as a result of bee stings or dog attacks for each person killed by a bear. It is much more sensational and horrifying to think of being attacked and killed by a bear than by a bee and we have unfortunately grown accustomed to continuously hearing about murders. The point here is that one of the least likely causes of death is by a bear attack, but yet our fear paralyses our ability to run these animals out of our neighborhoods. They mistake our actions, and inaction, as a sign that they are welcome and this is one of the main reasons we are having trouble with bears coming up on decks and into houses. Bears read our reaction to them (fear) as submission and then move right on in. A bear will not spend time in an area where he is tormented and not finding any food. In order to let them know they have to leave, each homeowner must be aggressive in defending his own territory just like another bear would be. People cant do this if they are fearful. It is also impossible to get the message through to the bears by being nice to them. They are smart and will take full advantage of our habit of quietly watching them from the deck or kitchen window. This action also tells them they are welcome and soon they begin to enter homes because they have been told its OK.The BEAR League doesnt emphasize the small number of deaths by bears to make them seem like lovable teddy bears. We do this to empower the residents and visitors of Tahoe so the bears can be taught the boundary lines and stay out of our homes. It takes everyone working together, all with the same goals. We human beings are at the top of the pecking order and the bears need to know this. Unrealistic fear of monster, man-eating beasts is why we are losing the battle. Most bear entries into homes are into empty (undefended) houses. The bears will enter homes where they have approached in the past and have not been chased away, either due to fear or by peacefully watching or even feeding them. Residents should not be seeing bears as often as we are. Just 10 years ago it was rare to see one. They were afraid of us and hid in the forest until we all went to sleep for the night when they could then silently sneak into our neighborhoods and raid our trash cans. There are no more bears today than 10 years ago but they have now lost their fear and seem to be right under our feet. It is imperative, for their safety and to stop all the property damage, to turn the tables on the bears and again make them terrified of all of us. We are smart enough to do this, but are we knowledgeable enough about their true nature?Views expressed in the Bear Report are those of the author. Questions, comments and/or requests for advice regarding any bear concern can be directed to 525-PAWS, firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.savebears.org.