Our View: The real problem with ‘problem bears’ | SierraSun.com

Our View: The real problem with ‘problem bears’

We’ve written about bears ” particularly living amongst them ” in this space many times over the years. Unfortunately, the reason we do so is because of stories like the one in today’s paper.

A homeowner is visited one-too-many times by a “problem” bear and then calls the California Department of Fish and Game to deal with the animal. Fish and Game looks into the situation and if it warrants, issues something called a depredation permit. A trap is then hauled out and at some point a bear ” not necessarily the offending bear ” is captured. Problem solved.

Wrong. First off, if the bear that gets trapped isn’t the one that’s paying the visits, they will continue to happen. And if it’s just a random bear baited into the trap, things just get worse.

This isn’t “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” where a trapped animal is sedated and taken to some remote place to wake up and run off. In California, trapped bears don’t experience happy endings ” they are destroyed. A depredation permit is a sanitized term for a license to kill.

The “problem” with “problem bears,” however, isn’t usually the bear, it is us.

Bears are everywhere in Truckee-Tahoe. And that means we must be aware of how we live. Whether it’s winter or summer, is the door pulled shut tight behind us as we hurry off to work or school? Did the plumber/electrician/heating guy secure the access door to under the house after he left? Is the trash put away some place that isn’t going to entice a hungry bear (or a scavenging neighborhood dog for that matter)? Are we leaving food out for our pets ” or even worse, birds, squirrels or raccoons ” thinking that that big, furry guy higher up the food chain won’t bother? Wrong.

While this is beautiful territory for humans to live, it has always been bear country. So unless we wipe out our resident black bear like our forefathers did the grizzly bear, we should reevaluate what ” and who ” turns our wild neighbors into a “problem.”