Residents and visitors returning to Lake Tahoe should be aware that bears have been seeking out human food sources during the evacuation and taking advantage of the lack of human presence. As you approach your home, look and listen carefully for signs that a bear has been or is in your home. If a bear is in your home, call 911. Do not attempt to chase it out yourself. Your safety is your responsibility.
Repair Your Home ASAP
Please make repairs to damage caused by bears as soon as possible. Easy access and a food reward encourages them to come back. Keep doors and windows closed and locked when possible and board up any damage with sturdy plywood and screws until full repair can occur. If you see a bear outside your home, haze it with noise like an airhorn, even if they don’t run away. Keep them wild!
Don’t Give Food or Water to Bears
Do not provide food or water to bears; it is illegal, and it can lead to escalating nuisance behavior including break-ins and human-bear contact that may result in death of that bear. It is a natural process for young bears to separate from their mothers during summer breeding and before hibernation. It’s possible that family groups were separated but don’t assume that small or young bears are orphaned or in need of help. Although habitat was lost, bears can and will find natural resources in unburned areas of the Tahoe Basin and beyond. Bears need our respect, not our handouts.
What to Do with Your Trash
South Tahoe Refuse has been working hard to collect garbage that was left behind and are offering bear resistant dumpsters at drop sites for spoiled food. https://southtahoerefuse.com/ You can drop off household garbage free of charge at: Tahoe Douglas Fire Station No. 23, 193 Elks Point Rd., Zephyr Cove - 1–5 p.m. Monday through Friday or South Tahoe Refuse Transfer Station, 2140 Ruth Ave. in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days a week beginning Sept. 6. We need your help to ensure that bears don’t increase their dependency on people for food, especially as they head into hyperphagia (eating and drinking nonstop as they prepare for hibernation) this fall to prepare for winter. They are equipped to find high calorie natural foods, even after fire. Feed the dumpsters, not the bears!
Wildlife Is Resilient
Finally, some wildlife may be injured or burned as a result of the Caldor and other fires. However, wildlife is very resilient, and many animals can recover and heal quickly on their own. Please report clear cases of distress to your local state agency for triage, such as an animal that is unable to walk or move on its own, appears emaciated, or orphaned. Plans are underway to facilitate this process. Eligible animals may be transferred for treatment and rehabilitation by licensed professionals. Do not approach or provide food or water to burned and injured animals. Your proximity may be adding stress. If you care, leave them there!
For assistance with property damage mitigation and/or reports of injured wildlife in California, contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s North Central Region at 916-358-2900. For Nevada bear issues, please contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife at 775-688-1331. For more guidance and best practices on coexisting with black bears, please visit Keep Tahoe Bears Wild.