Bears are sometimes problems not just for campers

9:08 p.m. on May 27, 2008 (EDT)
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Bears not only get into packs, tents, and cars at the trailhead. They get into houses. And sometimes the damage goes beyond a broken door and damaged refrigerator (read the last paragraph) - from


Tahoe Bear Problem Crosses State Lines

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- After an unprecedented number of bear problems in the Tahoe Basin last year, wildlife officials in California and Nevada are sharing personnel, databases and other resources in a joint effort to reduce the number of conflicts with humans this year.

California alone fielded more than a thousand calls last year about nuisance bears about nuisance bears partly because of the Tahoe Basin fire and the drought that led up to it, according to Steve Matarano, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Matarano said that made human sources of food such as unprotected garbage containers especially attractive to the roughly 800 bears that call the Tahoe Basin home. “They don’t really know the state line and we share a lot of bears, a lot of the bear problems.”

Nevada and California have hired two additional biologists to serve the region. They are charged with helping game officials respond to calls about problems, and to leading education efforts for seasonal and year-round residents.

“Residents need to be aware that they’re a big part of the problem and when they allow bears to have a very ready food source, then it just increases the problem,” Matarano said.

In one extreme case last year, a bear managed to get inside a house and start a fire as it foraged through the residence, Matarano said. The animal escaped unharmed, but the empty house was not so fortunate.

9:51 p.m. on May 27, 2008 (EDT)
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Bears get featured on the local news down here (LA) fairly regularly. People build houses in the local hills, right up against the forest or open space, then get surprised when wild animals wind up in their backyards. It's more of a people problem than a bear problem. Kind of like with sharks-stay out of the water and they never are a problem.

12:02 a.m. on May 28, 2008 (EDT)
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I currently live in the Tahoe Basin and can definitively tell you that the problem stems from (humans) supreme ignorance of natural law. While bears do have the ability to reason, they are mostly driven by instinct and hunger. We have, as humans, ventured into their territory and staked claim to land within their territory. They do not understand the way we think... but they certainly have learned how to capitalize on the ignorance of humans with regard to natural law. It is entirely a problem that we created and we will have to change our ways in order to minimize the interaction and conflicts in the future.
Bears have a KEEN sense of smell and ANYTHING that you can smell close-up... a bear can detect a long distance away. You've heard about survival of the fittest... you only need to be able to run faster than the slowest of your kind.
Well, the reason that bears have exploited certain areas and homes... is because of the ignorance... (by the people occupying those areas) to the natural law. Bears will exploit the easiest, most fragrant and tastiest opportunities first.
Most incidences are related to:
1) Carelessly maintaining food stocks in your home or while camping (if it is not in an air-tight container... the bear will smell it!),
2) Poor cleanliness regimen for your home, neighborhood and your person (if you don't pick-up/sweep-up all your trash/crumbs/spills... and sanitize thereafter... the bears WILL find you!... sooner or later),
3) Poor habits for refuse disposal (if you do not have [and properly use] a welded steel bear box, the bears will learn that YOU are an easy target) - YOUR smelly refuse is what attracts bears to your area!!!,
4) Poorly fortified dwellings (if you do not want bears in your home, you must have taken precautions to keep the bear from gaining entry. Bears are much stronger and heavier than humans... and flimsy entry doors, single-pane windows, screens, and slipshod construction are not barriers to a bear),
5) Unconscious humans (While not solely responsible, it is the part-time resident that causes us the greatest strife. Whether it is a vacation renter, a part-year resident home owner, or a renter who is new to the area... their lack of diligence to maintain proper cleanliness and boundaries tends to attract bears),

The only way to live in harmony with the bears... is to cease our conditioning them that coming around human dwellings is an easy, free lunch. Our food is NOT good or healthy for them.
We have to cease the exploitation of our environment and natural resources... and cease building gargantuan palaces in the woods just because our ego and our income can.
We are destroying our environment... and we get upset when the wonderful creatures (that have ALWAYS been here) just go about their normal foraging.
Don't you know that it is only the human that knows the meaning of a fence or propertyline... these are fabrications of the ego... and not natural to the world ecosystem and biosphere.
Think before you act, live with intention, reduce the size of your footprint, conserve, re-use and recycle.
Thank you.

3:03 a.m. on May 28, 2008 (EDT)
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While I totally agree with and have practiced your conservationist ethos for many years, you do not appear to know very much about bears, natural systems or the behaviour of wild animals.

BEARS are intensely TERRITORIAL organisms and they DO meticulously delineate THEIR territories as do many other major predators, although their "propertylines" are marked by a different "signage" than are those of suburban humans.

Ego has zipall to do with it, the survival-propagation of the animal in question is the evolutionary force and that is not as different from humans as one would think.

BTW, the Biosphere IS made up of the biotic aspects of ALL the planetary ecosystems, there are not TWO systems, the ecosystem and biosphere..., as you imply. No offence intended, but, your opinion on bears and territoriality, which is all a propertyline really is, has no basis in actual bear behviour.

5:46 p.m. on May 28, 2008 (EDT)
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Naaahhh, kutenay. We gotta subdue Nature and conquer the Wilderness. Show those bears and put them in their place. We'll teach them to break into our cars and cabins. Humans are the Supreme Rulers of the Universe, after all {;=>D

Unfortunately, GlobalAdventure is reflecting the published statements of the state fish and game offices in Nev and Calif in the Tahoe area. Their answer is to continue building more cabins and houses and fortify them.

7:10 p.m. on May 28, 2008 (EDT)
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kutenay is absolutely right, bears are territorial.
Some people seem to think animals just wander aimlessly eating what they find on their way. If you see a bear eating blackberries, chances are it has been visiting that food plot for some time, and has already marked the area in which you now stand. It is campers who sometimes wander through the woods foraging for edibles with an edible plant book in one hand and bear scat stuck in their vibram soled boots.

2:03 p.m. on June 10, 2008 (EDT)
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So then, is food the issue?

Every case I have heard of involving a wild (backwoods Canada or Alaska) bear encountering a human has ended up with the bear running off. Usually from a couple hundred yards away, as the human in question shouts "Damn!! Did you see that bear?" I fully admit I am not on the up and up when it comes to bear/human encounters, but the main problem, in my opinion, seems to be outlined above. I gather that the most problems come from those bears which have become used to human presence, thus eliminating our status as a potentially more powerful predator, and by consequence, a threat. Once that happens, they just see free food.

It's generally a bad idea to come inbetween a hungry bear and free food.

As for the cases where wild bears do attack humans, I think a careful review of these cases would establish that in many instances the bear was simply unaware of the human presence, either from being upwind of the humans, or from the stealthly nature of many walkers. That's where, as kutenay might agree, the bear has every right to say, in more or less words, "Whoa!--Didn't see you there buddy! Wait...What are you doing on my land? Can't you smell me? Sorry? I can't understand what you're sayi--Hey!! You sure do smell tasty, and you are much smaller than me..."

In practice, however, this conversation may be much faster in duration, and can occur in your house, or on the trail, or even at the mall. Just wait till the bears learn about fast food drive-through windows.

7:56 p.m. on June 10, 2008 (EDT)
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I am not claiming to be a bear expert, but I have seen quite a few in the Southern Appalachians. Mostly medium size, black bears going about their daily routine. I have shared trout streams with a couple without incident. One thing I can tell you is that you do not want to push your luck with something that weighs 400 lbs. ,can run 30 mph. and can catch trout in swift current with their paws!
The main problem here is that we are slowly tightening the noose on our wilderness areas in terms of development. We have many, many little towns interspersed throughout our National Forests. Lots of bed & breakfasts, resorts, and amusement areas.
The bears behavior is becoming less and less predictable, and there have been several instances where locals or hikers could not scare the bear away during an encounter.
There have been about 26 people killed in N. America since 2000. This includes Timothy Treadwell (grizzly man),and his girlfriend, who were quite frankly asking for trouble!
In 2006 a group of hikers was attacked and they were not able to scare the bear away, even with rocks and sticks.
The bear killed a 6 yr old girl before an official shot it with a measly 9 mm. pistol and only then did the bear run away.
It is a real shame, this is an impressive animal, and I love the occasional glimpse and photo op.
I have camped and fished less than a mile from the area where the little girl was killed.
Check out this link to Wikipedia

[Edited by Dave]

April 22, 2018
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