It’s that time of year again: the time for boating adventures, barbecuing on the back deck, and black bears. That’s right, hibernation season is over and the American Black Bears are ready to check out the new neighbors throughout South Lake Tahoe. Whether you are a year-round resident or just visiting the area for a vacation, we have a few friendly tips for you about how to stay safe and respectful of these big beautiful creatures.
There are several black bear families that frequent the neighborhoods throughout South Lake Tahoe. Their biggest goal is not unlike humans–to eat! While black bears are not aggressive toward humans by nature, they are large animals who can do quite a bit of damage while hunting down a good meal (we all know how it feels to get hangry).
Here are a few tips and tricks for sharing your vacation with black bear neighbors:
- Don’t Invite the Bears over for Dinner
- Never leave food outside your vacation home.
- Clean your BBQs after each use.
- For trash, use the designated bear box on the property, or put full garbage bags in the garage as instructed within each home.
- Close and lock all windows and doors at night, an open window can let out delicious lingering scents from dinner.
- Don’t Offer them a Ride
- Clean out your car once you get to your vacation rental.
- Don’t leave any food, food wrappers, perfumes, or scented lotions in vehicles.
- Avoid scented air fresheners that may entice a furry friend.
- Do Respect their Space!
- If you see a bear in your neighborhood, do not run. Stand tall, make loud noises, retreat slowly.
- If you see a bear in the woods, know that you are in their home. Do not run, make eye contact without staring intensely, stand as tall as possible, stay quiet and calm but large in this setting, and retreat slowly.
- In any setting, do not get in their path or between a mom and her cubs. Let the bears do their thing while keeping a safe and respectful distance.
- Take a Mental Picture, Not a Belfie
- In past summers, a popular trend was taking selfies with bears–please avoid this at all costs!
- Enjoy the unique experience of seeing a neighborhood black bear by taking a mental picture, or using your camera’s zoom feature from a safe distance.
Neighborhoods with known bears or bear families include: the Tahoe Island community, throughout the Tahoe Keys, Bijou neighborhoods, and most recently the Heavenly Valley area.
Bears in these neighborhoods have gotten used to perusing the streets, yards, and good-smelling vehicles for food. They are growing more and more comfortable with humans around. This does not mean you should find out what a bear hug is really all about. Instead, follow the above guidelines and soak in the experience of watching them live from the comforts of the great indoors of your vacation rental.
If you ever do encounter a bear while on vacation, don’t panic, but do call Bear League at 530-525-7297.
For more bear knowledge and safety guidelines:
- USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Mgt Unit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/ltbmu/learning/nature-science/?cid=fsm9_046599
- Bear League: http://www.savebears.org/index.html