My Turn: Tahoe bears – from cuddling to killing
TAHOE CITY, Calif. – Think back to your childhood – did you have a favorite bear that you cuddled? How about your children? Grandchildren? Do they have bears now? Why as children and grandchildren is that favorite bear held so tight that the stuffing is being squeezed out of him? Why as children is there a comfort feeling with bears? Was it because you were larger than the bear? What has changed now that we are educated adults, and for all of us some level of fear for bears has set in?The bears we as adults now come across in our community are larger than that stuffed bear we held on to for dear life. Is this the reason? Is it our natural human instincts and intelligence gained in life’s journey that have kicked in which tell us that anything larger and stronger, especially an animal, is a threat to our survival and must be killed? I believe this programmed human instinct to be the basis for almost every bear depredation permit issued in our community.There is nothing wrong with the human instinct of fear. After all, the bears are wild animals and should be treated with some level of fear. The level of fear each of us has is directly related to our exposure to bears.About 10 years ago before my start of many years of continued training, education and bear encounters, I was scared to death of bears. Even with my fear I would never have gone as far as killing a bear for any reason. Through life I have gained enough knowledge to be responsible for my actions. Knowingly to kill any animal is just not part of my human nature.I can’t thank Ann Bryant and the BEAR League enough for providing me with the knowledge and experience by exposing me to the bears of our community. Because of that education, understanding and knowledge, I feel that I am an asset to my neighborhood, community and our wildlife. I always have an eye out in attempt to prevent any potential bear activity. Any bear seen coming into our neighborhood off Old County Road is hazed with a paint ball gun until the bear either out runs my wife or me, or the bear is back where the bear belongs; in the forest. No bear is ever left to walk through our neighborhood without a confrontation, and our neighbors all know this.This leads me to the knowledge gained through life’s education in becoming an adult. Tahoe is bear country and we must have the understanding for what is right and what is wrong, and for the consequences we face because of our actions. If we lived in the city, would we leave the windows opened when the house was occupied or unoccupied, leave the car door unlocked, or the front door wide open? Probably not.It’s not a crime to leave the window open at either your house in Tahoe or your house in the city; however, whether it’s a bear or a burglar, neither call you before they enter. Entry could happen be any time of the day. Think of a bear as a burglar without a gun. A bear is just following its natural programmed instinct; food. The bear wants nothing to do with you. More people have been killed by a falling tree landing on them in their house then a bear eating them after cleaning out the kitchen.As intelligent humans we should also know that a depredation permit is not the answer and will not do anything but cause havoc within our neighborhood and community. Calling for a depredation permit is solely a result of our immediate anger and lack of education on bears. I would be extremely upset if a bear entered my house; however, I decided to buy a house in bear country. The possibly of a break-in is an inherent part of the risk.Imagine finding a house in the city where there is no possibility of a burglar breaking in. The same holds true for buying a house in bear country. When a depredation permit is issued there is no guarantee that the targeted bear will be caught. The trap is baited and any bear that walks by, following its natural programmed instinct for food, that enters the trap will be killed.The California Department of Fish & Game does not practice catching and releasing bears (see story in the July 6 Sierra Sun). Killing the wrong bear because the bear was hungry and went for the bait solves nothing … the intended bear is still out there. Even if the targeted bear is caught and killed, there are still more bears out there with the possibly of entering a house; therefore, as humans, we need to get educated about bears, living with bears and become an asset to our neighborhood and our community by becoming bear aware.Over the past years there have been depredation permits issued in Alpine Meadows with bears being killed. If the depredation permits issued years ago were an effective bear management tool, there should have been no reason for the current permit to be issued and bear killed. The bear problem would have been resolved years ago. Please get educated about living in bear country, and as a community stop the ineffective depredation permits. Jim Sajdak is a Tahoe City resident.
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