Across The Universe: Lake Tahoe bear season is back – are you prepared? |

Across The Universe: Lake Tahoe bear season is back – are you prepared?

While you might not have guessed it when waking up Tuesday to a larger-than-expected dose of spring snow, bear season has already arrived at Truckee-Tahoe.

After snowy and wet months in November through January, things warmed up in February, and various species of wildlife have begun to surface. This includes our most famous of wildlife celebrities, black bears. Not withstanding the in-and-out bouts of snow we’ve gotten in March, spring is here, and that means locals, second-home owners and visitors need to prepare themselves for life in bear country.

This past week, much attention has centered on Incline Village, where the Nevada Department of Wildlife placed a trap for a bear at the request of residents living in an area of town.

According to media reports, the 450-pound male was trapped Monday morning. The bruin had reportedly not been handled before by NDOW, and had become dependent on trash and garbage. It was scheduled to be released in the mountains east of Gardnerville, its fate from there up in the air.

Depending on who you talk to, you’re going to hear all sorts of anecdotes and opinions about if the bear was aggressive and posed a danger to humans, or if it was simply hungry and was lured to the area due to poor trash management on behalf of residents.

And, if you’re brave enough, you may want to chime in to the conversation on the endless stream of Facebook posts out there. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you feel inclined to voice strong opinions one way or the other.

Regardless of all that, one thing is certain: This is only the beginning of what will be a busy and at-times cantankerous summer.

There are many bears, perhaps hundreds, that call Tahoe-Truckee home, and despite the bear-human issue being more focused in recent years on the Nevada side of the lake, these animals don’t understand state lines.

As I prepare to enjoy my 10th Tahoe summer, I want to reiterate the six lessons I’ve learned during past bear seasons:

1: While I might be nervous, I do not fear for my life when I see a bear. I know they are just as scared, if not more, as me.

2: I never, under any circumstance, let that first conclusion deter my ability as an intelligent human to understand that anything can happen.

3: With both those thoughts in mind, if I see a bear, I distance myself from it, and shout for it to go away.

4: I can do my best to properly contain my trash and food, but have little control over others.

5: Not once have I felt the need to call wildlife or police to deal with a bear in either state — nor have I contacted the BEAR League or other wildlife advocates.

6: I do not for one second blame people who feel the need to call the BEAR League to help shoo a bear — or for those who contact authorities to deal with the situation.

As I’ve written before, every person chooses how he or she will react to life in bear country. And that’s just fine — this is America, after all, and people should be entitled to their own opinion.

That said, I want to be clear to everyone — whether you’re a longtime local or are completely new to this beautiful area of the world, I’m not suggesting bears need to get accustomed to life in human country. Rather, it’s the other way around. The bears (just like the trees) were here first, and it is important for us to always remember that.

Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. He may be reached for comment at

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