Bears absolutely don’t belong in houses, no matter how cute
Is everyone as ready as I am for the bears to take a nap? This past season has been the most difficult and exasperating since the BEAR League founded about six years ago. We had more bears going into homes and cars in more neighborhoods than ever before. Every bear who entered a home was eventually verified as having been fed or made welcome at that or someone else’s house.It was falsely argued that by recommending bear-proof garbage enclosures we had created a monster. It was said that the bears began to starve to death and had no other option but to go inside and raid refrigerators. Think about it, how many skinny bears have you seen around Truckee? It’s quite the opposite; our bears outweigh black bears from any other area in North America. They are not starving. So why are they entering houses so boldly? Because they have been made to feel welcome. I don’t mean we all necessarily stood at the open door and said. “Come on in, bear.” We have allowed bears to feel completely at home wandering around our yards, sitting on our decks, peering into our windows, eating our pet food, and going in and out of our garages. So why should they think they don’t belong in our homes?Let’s quick take a look back into the past in order to understand how these bears came to the above conclusions. When the European people first came to populate the west there were grizzly bears living in this whole area, far outnumbering the elusive black bears. The grizzly was the “king of the jungle.” Next in the pecking order were the Indians and finally the meek and submissive black bear. The first step to “house bears” was the killing of all the grizzlies.Our second step to refrigerator-raiding bears was to obliterate the ideologies of the Indians who had lived comfortably with and understood the black bears for millenniums. The Washoe people shared the abundance of the forest with the bears. They understood that the black bears would not hurt them and ‘spoke’ to them about respecting the boundaries where the Indians had their summer settlements.The third step towards taming our bears (and this is the one we have to take full ownership of) started when we no longer expected them to respect our boundaries. Remember when just ten years ago it was rare to see a bear? And certainly never in broad daylight. Slowly they began to appear more and more and some people thought that meant there were more of them. There aren’t, they just aren’t hiding from us anymore. These past few years our actions have made a loud and clear announcement to the bears, “You are welcome here. You don’t need to be afraid of us, we won’t hurt you.” We cannot do this anymore! We have act like dominant grizzly bears. The black bears evolved expecting something/someone to hold this position. Since everything and everybody who did so is gone – thanks to us – we now have to do it.We must tell our bears that we are a mean, grouchy, ornery species and we do not share our dens (houses) or our home territory (yards) with anyone, especially them. We can no longer talk baby-talk to them when we see them on our decks. Everyone has to yell and screech as obnoxiously as you can when a bear comes near your house. No one can put any food out that they can get, absolutely nothing. We all have to keep our windows and doors protected while we are away from the house and get advice on how to discourage them from wanting to enter (Call us, we know all the tricks). When a mama bear brings her adorable little teddy bear cubs by we have to steel ourselves up, swallow hard, put on a ferocious attitude and tell her and the babies that they will not be safe if they dare to come close again. I do not want to ever again hear of anybody cooing softly at the babies while taking pictures and hand feeding them. This happens all the time and it has to stop now. If you know of anyone doing this, tell the BEAR League. If you don’t help us by doing or not doing what we recommend then don’t whine to us when a bear comes in and sits down on the couch to watch TV with you, hogging all your popcorn and pooping on your rug. And don’t even think of killing the bear because you or your neighbor made a pet out of him.Call the BEAR League for coaching on how to be the dominant animal on your property. Please help us teach our bears the rules. Call (530) 525-PAWS (7297) or firstname.lastname@example.org.Ann Bryant is the executive director of the BEAR League.
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