Seeking a bruin solution
Lake Tahoes black bears are now sleeping, but some of the humans they got into trouble with last year are already planning what to do when they wake.Residents will remember the spring, summer and fall of 2007 as a record period for bears breaking into homes and bear deaths. Tonight at the monthly Placer County Fish and Game Commission meeting in Auburn, biologists and game wardens will get together to talk about the large mammals and discuss what may have caused the record fatalities and break-ins, said Jason Holley, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Holley said he will also be asked to give a prediction for the coming months, he said.Bear advocates say the agency did too little too late last year to protect the bears and residents interests.I would like to see them say they are willing to work with us, the BEAR League and the sheriffs department, said Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League. They have tied our hands in every way imaginable.Bryant said local agencies that want to help have been thwarted by the state department. She said adverse conditioning, tying negative experience to humans and their food, is a proven method that her group practices. She said in 2004, Fish and Game banned the use of Bear-B-Gones trash cans rigged with a pepper spray trap inside. When the lid is opened the bear receives an eyeful of spray. The state agency, Bryant said, told her to stop using the $1,000 traps because they constituted bating and harassing of wildlife.Meanwhile, Bryants organization is willing to help Fish and Game with the bear issue with 150 trained volunteers, while the agency suffers from a slim presence in the Tahoe Basin, said Bryant.They dont have anybody, not a single person [in the Basin], and even if they did they wouldnt be able to do anything, she said. When faced with a problem the agency takes hours and sometimes days to respond because they are based in Auburn, Bryant said.Others who do not align themselves with the Leagues philosophies still feel not enough is being done.The sad thing is that the sheriffs will come out and say we cant do anything, said Timberland homeowner Don Harder. They say dont call Fish and Game, they cant do anything. Who is supposed to take the ball with this? The homeowners?The under-funded agency could see further reductions because of Californias $14 billion deficit, said the areas state senator, Dave Cox. No new funding is earmarked to address the bear problem, Cox said.
Harder said he applauds the efforts undertaken in Nevadas Department of Wildlife, with its three strikes rule for bear break-ins and bear relocation programs.With proposed budget cuts throughout California, Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz said as near as anyone can tell, the effort will need to come from the existing resources.The county has never used money for those [bear] programs, Kranz said. In order for us to deal with this bear problem we are going to have to find someone in the private sector to help. In some ways I dont think its about money.Cooperation between agencies is the key, said Kranz, indicating that the BEAR League, homeowners, restaurants along with law enforcement should find common ground to solve the problem. The District 5 supervisor said he might even consider strict trash ordinances to curb the bears. Such an ordinance is something Bryant said her volunteers are lobbying for as well.
Bear hunting kills1997: 1,677 1998: 1,676 1999: 1,8362000: 1,796 2001: 1,633 2002: 1,768 2003: 1,670 2004: 1,848 2005: 1,4182006: 1,8222007: 1,700Bear hunting tags sold1997: 15,264 1998: 18,475 1999: 18,321 2000: 20,620 2001: 19,7962002: 22,157 2003: 22,331 2004: 21,000 2005: 23,160 2006: 24,076Calif. Department of Fish and GameBear Depredation Permits1997: 1751998: 2501999: 3402000: 2602001: 1752002: 2002003: 2402004: 2252005: 1752006: 1802007: 150CDFG,/iandgt;
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