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Bears spring to life

It’s a sign of spring that many Tahoe-Truckee residents have become as accustomed to as blooming flowers and thawing hillsides.

A yearling black bear cub awoke from his residential camping spot Wednesday and scaled a 100-foot pine tree in Kings Beach before an audience of local residents.

The 80-pound bear was apparently nesting under a house close to the shoreline of Lake Tahoe, according to BEAR League volunteer Rachel Snyder, who was on the scene by 10:30 a.m.



The black bear was likely scared out of his camping spot beneath the Brockway Vista Road home by the sound of chainsaws earlier that morning, said owner of Rockwood Tree Service Beth Moxley.

Moxley’s tree service had been hired by a local property owner to cut down some trees that were very close to a structure near the house the bear had camped under, she said.



“I smelled him this morning, then we started cutting and chased him out [unknowingly],” Moxley said.

Moxley, who encounters bears frequently while working, said when she smelled the bruin she warned her crew to keep an eye out for it, but did not know where it was until it scaled the tall pine tree.

“The smell is like a wet dog ” times 100,” Moxley said.

One of the trees Moxley’s crew was scheduled to work on was the 100-footer the baby bruin climbed, she said. The work on that tree will be deferred until the bear clears out, she said.

“We were going to be limbing this tree today,” she said looking up at it while the bear knocked some small branches loose that fell close by. “But we don’t want to bother him ” they were here before we were,” she smiled.

The yearling’s mother likely forced him out of the den this spring to fend for himself, Snyder said.

When he found an opening leading underneath the rental home and smelled the nearby restaurants the bear created his own nest, Snyder said while shining a flashlight on the balled up bits of insulation and plastic that she said was probably the bruin’s bed.

Employees of a beauty salon located directly in front of the tree and the residence he was hidden under said they saw the bear in his perch about 9:30 a.m.

Jessica McDonald, a stylist at La Petit Salon said she was enjoying a cigarette on the back deck of the beauty shop when she heard a crackling in the tree above her causing her to look up.

“[I saw] him just sitting in the branches ” I didn’t even know he was there [at first],” McDonald said.

The BEAR League volunteers stationed themselves under the tree and planned to stay until the workers left and the traffic died down, Snyder said.

Once the bear decides it is safe to come down they will attempt to corral the cub back to the heavily wooded areas above Highway 28, she said.

If the bear does not come down on its own, Snyder said she will shoot her paint gun above the bear’s head in an attempt to scare it down, she said.

“We have to make them think we hate them while we really love them,” she said.

Snyder has worked with the league for 10 years and said she has already been on many calls this spring, but she said, about her extended stay beneath the tree, “this is my first baby sitting call this year.”

Once the bear is chased off, Snyder said they will nail up the opening in the side of the home and apply “plain Pine-Sol” to the area where he slept.

“It burns there nose ” they really hate it,” she said.

She does not use the scented version of the disinfectant because it fools the bears into thinking that it is food, she said.


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