Northstar works to scare problem bears |

Northstar works to scare problem bears

With the summer tourist season fast approaching, and their opening day for mountain biking set for May 16, Northstar-at-Tahoe employees are working to rid their resort of two young black bears.

Armed with pepper spray and their shouts of “scat”, employees of the resort have been attempting to scare the cubs away from the area. Other aversion tactics being used at Northstar include locking restaurant doors and spraying garbage cans with ammonia.

“He just got used to being able to find food there, now he’s really hanging around,” said Ann Bryant, president of the Bear Preservation League. “He’s just trying to find his own territory; he probably thought he’d found a good one.”

Bryant said members of the League, a group of volunteers trained in the art of bear aversion, had been called on to help deal with the situation.

Northstar spokesperson Erin Bernall said that aversion tactics would be tried for the time being, in an effort to avoid involving the California Department of Fish and Game.

“They need to be taught that people are bad, and that civilization is bad,” Bernall said, adding that the resort had requested a bear aversion kit, containing items such as noise makers and pepper spray, from the Placer and El Dorado County Sheriff’s Departments. “If we’re not successful then Fish and Game will need to step in.”

California Department of Fish and Game Public Information Officer Steve Martarano said that bears are only destroyed if they repeatedly destroy property or become a nuisance to people; he also said the agency occasionally relocates bears.

“It’s a case-by-case basis,” Martarano said.

“It depends on the circumstances.”

Martarano said that the department only relocates bears in very unique circumstances. He said the situation is usually considered too dangerous to try to capture and relocate a bear.

“We tend not to think of it as a good option,” he said. “It’s almost a last ditch.”

Officials with the California Department of Fish and Game have told the Tahoe World on several occasions that there is no relocation program in this state.

“Steve’s just their PR man. It’s all a lie,” Bryant said of Martarano’s statements. “They shoot’em after one incident. They have shot many bears; they have shot friends of mine.”

Bryant said that she believes the bears may be scared away from the resort area, but probably not, due to the steady food supply the cubs have hit upon.

The League has received calls reporting individuals purposely feeding the animals.

“It’s kind of a bad situation because it’s gone on too long,” Bryant said, estimating the bears’ stay at Northstar at more than a month. “It’s not easy being a bear in a human world.”

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