Repeated bear break-ins trouble homeowners | SierraSun.com

Repeated bear break-ins trouble homeowners

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

Andrew Cristancho/ Sierra SunWith a shredded food pantry door in the foreground, Brenda McLean examines her freezer door at her Tahoe Pines home. McLean's house is one of four on Madrone Street that has sustained recent damage from bear break-ins.

Shredded cans and broken glass greeted one Tahoe Pines resident when she arrived at her Madrone Street house for a weekend visit last Friday.

Homeowner Brenda McLean stepped over the debris of empty food wrappings, bear excrement and blood-smeared floors. The 19-year resident said because of the small-sized bloody paw prints on her floor she thinks a female bear and her cub created the mess inside her second home in Tahoe.

“The cubs are being bred to be machines of destruction,” McLean said.

The mess at her house was one of many recent bear break-ins on the street, said her neighbor Jim Bowman. The only full-time resident in the neighborhood, Bowman has taken on a caretaking role, boarding up broken windows and calling

the neighbors when their homes have been damaged.

“We’ve been broken into three times,” Bowman said as he peered through the broken front window of the resident across the street from McLean’s house.

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He said more than half of the houses on the block have been broken into and a solution needs to be found.

“They need to start issuing some permits to do some thinning,” Bowman said, referring to the California Department of Fish and Game.

“We’ve gotten to the point where something has to be done ” the status quo is not going to work anymore,” McLean said.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League said thinning is not the answer because bear populations are not the problem.

“There are no more bears then there have been in the past, but all the food and water have dried up in the backwoods,” Bryant said. “Hunters and hikers have called me and said we’re just not finding bears in the backwoods anymore.”

In 2007, Fish and Game issued 1,700 hunting tags for black bears statewide.

According to the department’s Web site,

“The data indicates that California’s bear population has increased in recent years,” according to the Web site. “Black bears are being observed in areas where they were not seen 50 years ago along the Central Coast and Transverse mountain ranges of Southern California. Between 25,000 and 30,000 black bears are now estimated to occupy 52,000 square miles in California.”

According to the Web site, 575 black bears have been killed by hunters this year. The department also issues depredation permits allowing people to kill bears that create an economic nuisance or that cannot be reintroduced into the wild.

Bryant said about 55 of the permits were issued in California so far this year. She said so far, in the Tahoe-Truckee area, 75 black bears have been killed by vehicles this year.