My Turn: Stop loving our bears to death | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Stop loving our bears to death

Jim Sajdak
BEAR League board member

On a recent Friday night a third bear this season sat in a trap to await his death. Only a few neighbors and the juvenile bear know the sentence for once roaming free along River Road and walking into a house by easily opening a screen door.

The house did have damage to the kitchen; however, that occurred last fall. This bear would have been too young last year to be held responsible for the damage. Within two miles of where the doomed bear sits I spot a restaurant Dumpster full of garbage with the lid wide open. A employee of the restaurant states, “We always lock our Dumpster at closing time. I am sorry to hear of the trapped bear ready to lose his life. I thought only problem bears are killed by the California Department of Fish and Game.”

I try to explain that any bear who enters a trap is killed, guilty or not.

After 10 years since the creation of the BEAR League our community still doesn’t understand how to properly live in bear country. Expendable beings? Lack of care? Education you say?

Education. Try it sometime. You’ll find it’s only for those who care and are willing to make a change. As a community two things need to happen to properly minimize the numbers of bears living around our homes and to protect our property: Stop all access to garbage and chase the bears out of our neighborhoods.

The story for almost every home break-in starts with, “About a year ago the bear was on our deck and got our bird feeder. He was so cute we took his picture. Now he broke in and is a problem. Last night he walked down the driveway and got into our garbage can.”

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Stop letting the bears feel comfortable in your neighborhood. Those who are the biggest bear “huggers” are killing our bears.

Is this column really being written by a BEAR League member? Some people have a misunderstanding of what the BEAR League is all about. There is no “H” for hugger in BEAR League. The “A” is for aversion. Aversion means non-lethal bear management practices to scare our bears back into their own territory. i.e. an aggressive yell with a blazing paintball gun works well.

The bears are to be respected in their territory, which is the forest, not on your deck or yard. Buy forcing the bears back into their territory you’re saving their lives.

If you allow a bear to feel comfortable eating pine nuts in your yard it may be your neighbor whose house gets broken into and who wants the bear killed. If it’s your house that suffers the damage you will have a whole different feeling toward that once beautiful bear. Bears are wild animals who when allowed to feel comfortable on your property don’t know that your house is off limits.

Protect your neighborhood, your house and save a bear’s life by enforcing proper aversion. Be the dominant animal, bears understand this.

Within our community we still have homeowners resisting to purchase a metal garbage enclosure, restaurants over-filling and not keeping the Dumpsters secure (bears don’t know to only come at night when you decide to chain the Dumpster), government campgrounds along Highway 89 with no proper food storage lockers and Nevada County without an affective garbage ordinance.

Every bear biologist will tell you that you have to stop all access to human food. Why do you think Yosemite writes a serious fine for leaving a cooler unattended or food in your car? It works. The amount of food (read “calories”) has a direct relationship to the number of cubs born. Stop all access to food and within the next generation the bear population will become more balanced ” naturally.

As individuals residing or vacationing within a community located in bear country we need to become bear smart and stop loving our bears to death. Our government agencies are not going to resolve the problem, they have failed for over 100 years while the problem has only escalated.

A depredation permit has never been a long-term solution to bear break-ins. There is another bear right around the corner. Are we going to kill them all? That’s impossible because it’s illegal. Unless we make a change the break-ins will continue. Why is there no DFG code enforcement on the people enhancing the bear problems? The DFG protocol is to only issue a depredation permit as a last resort after corrections have been made by the homeowner. What corrections were made before tomorrows bear is killed? Nothing.

The BEAR League is available 24/7 to assist with education and aversion. Call us if you’re ready to make a real and honest change in your neighborhood. Our goal is to live in harmony with bears by keeping them in their territory; the forest, not on your property.