The Bears are Back in SLT – How to Stay Safe & Respectful

Even though the snow is still capping the peaks around the lake, it is officially summer, which means it is time for water sports, BBQs, and black bears.

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
  • Don’t Offer them a Ride
    • Clean out your car once you get to your vacation rental
    • Don’t leave any food or food wrappers 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
    • Last summer 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.

IMG_2965[1]

Black Bear in SLT Neighborhood – Taken with Zoom Feature on iPhone

While black bears’ natural habitat is in the woods, there are a few bear families that have grown accustomed to the city life–city of SLT that is.

Neighborhoods with known bears or bear families include: the Tahoe Island community, throughout the Tahoe Keys, and Bijou neighborhoods.

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:

 

Featured image courtesy of Yellowstone’s Photo Collection.
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