Eight Foraging Bears Killed In Tahoe
Posted: 9:44 am PDT June 11, 2010
Updated: 10:02 am PDT June 11, 2010
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. -- The heavy snow and lingering winter conditions in the Sierra are forcing black bears into the valleys around Lake Tahoe, where an unusually large number of them have had to be put to death in recent weeks.
Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Carl Lackey says officials already killed eight bears this spring, compared with a typical death toll of just one or two by this time.
"I attribute that to the late winter weather conditions," he said.
Unlocked food or trash lures the bears into trouble in cars and homes. Adding to the problem, Lackey said, is Washoe County has no ordinance requiring bear-proof trash receptacles.
Hot spots are centered near South Lake Tahoe, Tahoma and Highway 89 near the Squaw Valley and Alpine ski resorts.
Cristen Langner, a wildlife biologist for California Fish and Game, said the California side of the Tahoe basin has had three permitted bear deaths this year, which is not uncommon for this time. Each of the deaths was also a result of residents not locking up food trash or food, she said.
Langner echoed Lackey's words of caution and said residents should always be bear-aware and keep doors locked and food secure.
"The big thing is that every time these bears are successful (finding stored trash or food) it just reinforces that behavior," she said.
Ann Bryant, president of the Homewood-based BEAR League, said she's concerned about the death toll.
"I'm pretty shocked because it's only going to get worse as the season goes on," she said.
Bryant said based on calls, sightings and onsite observations, the BEAR League has observed more newborns this year than any other, as well as an increased number of sightings and conflicts.
Usually bears aren't spotted out of hibernation until May or June, Bryant said, but she's seen them as early as March and April this year.
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