The bear population in the Sierra Nevada continues to grow and the moment you meet one of these omnivorous animals face to face, you realize they are big and powerful and could do a lot of damage to your refridgerator if allowed to come inside. The bears living in the Tahoe and Truckee areas are generally non-agressive and casually walk away when confronted with loud noise or a concentrated effort in defending the homestead. They are looking for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, not you or your pet and if that is not easy to get, they loose interest.The Tahoe Basin has the second highest density of black bears in North America, with several bears per square mile at times. They are territorial and will travel throughout the Sierra Nevadas to avoid another bear’s territory. Some people believe the black bear hibernates over the winter season but it is only a semi-hibernation period. Often, we see bears on the ski slopes or at the end of a driveway digging through garbage. The mortality rate of young bears is at approximately 50%. When coming into contact with humans, they run into trouble by either being hit by a car or euthanzied for public safety concerns.
In an effort to co-exist with these animals, local communites have learned to use bear boxes for their garbage, keep doors and windows closed when not close by, secure pet food indoors, not leave food in the car overnight, and do everything they can to scare the bears away when they stop by for a snack. When bears become habituated with humans, they can become a problem and many people have come home to broken windows and a raided refridgerator. I had a neighbor come over one day, asking for help. He was upset by a “bloody mess” he found in his kitchen one afternoon. Red paw prints were all over his kitchen and out his back door. After some investigation, we discovered an empty jar of strawberry jam that apparently had been mixed with ketcup and olives. What a mess!We all love the bears. Let’s do everything we can to co-exist. The black bear population is growing along with the human population. A lot of their territory has been taken over by us. Personally, I like to give them as much room as they need.