Special to the Sierra Sun
Elsewhere across the country bears are already asleep, but not in Tahoe-Truckee. And with no snow, Thanksgiving week and all the visitors, the cooking and leftovers overflowing the trash, we cannot expect our bears to give us a break anytime soon.
In fact, this is the time we all have to be extra careful and be sure they do not find any food in our neighborhoods. The trigger in their brains, which instructs them to den-up, is not necessarily the cold, it’s the lack of food.
This means it’s up to us to be sure nature takes its course. This season has been by far the worst for bear break-ins than ever before. Seventy-eight bears were killed on the roads and highways of the Tahoe area, dozens were killed by the California Department of Fish and Game and Nevada Department of Wildlife, many dozen more were killed by poachers and hunters, and yet the problem continues.
The bears are not the problem. The fact is, they have learned (evolved) faster than we have to exploit our presence and now they all understand that we are cutting down their native food sources and building homes that contain pantries and refrigerators full of food, and most with no one to defend this easy food source. Seventy-five percent of homes, on average, in each neighborhood are second homes and are left empty for most of the year.
Every species on Earth is programmed to survive, if we continue to desecrate the natural food sources, either by bulldozing and building, or indirectly as a result of climate change (rain instead of snow … fires, no native berry crop) the bears are smart enough to search out and take advantage of whatever food source they can find. If that means bashing down a door (easy for a creature stronger than any linebacker) then that’s what they will do.
That is what they are doing, and will continue to do because of our attitude and policies. In other states and countries supplemental food drops have been used successfully as a way to divert the bears from people’s kitchens. This does not cause the bears to associate food with people, does not make them aggressive (quite the opposite) and does not create a situation where they over populate.
Here in Tahoe they are having more cubs than normal because they raid homes every night and find triple the calories than they would by foraging in the woods.
A man in placed his mom and dad in a rest home but left all the food in the empty home and a bear came in to dine. He asked for and immediately received a depredation permit from the DFG and is now placing food in the front yard and waiting in his car each night with his rifle prepared to shoot any bear who approaches the food pile.
Another man in forgot to close his door when he left the house and a bear entered easily and broke his refrigerator while eating what was inside. He got a depredation permit from the DFG and had a mom and two cubs shot to death for taking advantage of his negligence.
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