Chances are if you have a South Lake Tahoe vacation rental, you have seen a bear or two. In fact, you likely have a neighborhood bear that you see on occasion or hear outside your window from time to time. Of course we have sightings all year long depending on how dry a winter has been, but during spring and summer, their appearances become much more common. If you need a refresher on how to co exist in “Bear Country”, check out these tips and facts!
In Lake Tahoe, there is only one species of Bear: The Black Bear. People occasionally get confused as black bears actually range in color from blonde to cinnamon brown (the most common) to black. It is said California has roughly 30,000 bears while Nevada has about 300. The average weight is about 300, but they can go up to 500. They can move pretty quickly at 35 mph and are great at climbing trees and swimming. They also prefer berries, insects, honey, nuts, roots and plants with the occasional small mammal mixed in for variety. This breed of bear generally likes to avoid humans so if you come across one make sure they don’t feel boxed in and leave them a way to escape. If they get too accustomed to people, they will lose their fear of humans and get too bold for their own good. The best way to prevent this from happening is bear proofing your vacation rental in Lake Tahoe with these tips:
1.) Do NOT feed the bears. We know….they are cute and fluffy but the saying “A fed bear is a dead bear” is incredibly accurate. Once they become accustomed to human food, bears will keep coming back which creates a conflicts with humans. This will not stop voluntarily either meaning you leaving food out could put the bear’s life on the line.
2.) When it comes to garbage, you have two options to keep bears at bay: Either invest in a bear proof garbage container OR put the garbage out the morning of collection day.
3.) If you happen to be growing any fruits or veggies, pick them as soon as they are ripe and make sure you don’t leave any fallen fruits on the ground.
4.) Keep pet food inside and make sure they are fed inside.
5.) Don’t leave food, trash or any type of animal food in your vehicles. Also make sure to lock your vehicles to try and prevent property damage.
6.) Treat your garbage cans with ammonia to keep any food or trash smells at bay.
7.) Make sure your bbq’s are kept clean.
8.) In fact, try to keep any type of scented items (candles, lotions, repellent, etc.) inside.
9.) Lock your windows and doors and keep your property secure so bears don’t follow a scent inside.
10.) When you are not occupying your Lake Tahoe vacation rental, make sure you remove all foods or scented products.
11.) Block crawl spaces, decks and any access points on a building to deter bears from hibernating under your vacation home for rent in Lake Tahoe.
You could do all these things and still have an encounter with a bear. In the event that this happens, do not run. Assert your dominance, stand tall, make noise and be aggressive. A local tip is bang pots and pans together. This usually scares them off. If you do not have access to kitchen items and you happen to be in the woods, stay calm, make eye contact but don’t stare and slowly walk away while making loud noise. Make yourself look as large as possible and pick up small children. Whatever you do, do not block their escape route and do not get between a mama and her cubs. Bear attacks are incredibly rare, but doing one of these two things will almost guarantee a confrontation. The term “Mama Bear” originates from somewhere folks! However, as long as you keep human food from being accessible, you are less likely to have an encounter. In fact, in California it is illegal to feed bears and VERY discouraged in the state of Nevada. If being penalized by local ordinances and the law isn’t bad enough, you will have the Lake Tahoe locals to answer to and we are very protective of our bears.
If you need to contact someone regarding a bear issue, start with the Tahoe Bear League and their convenient 24 hour hotline number: 530-525-7297. Other options include Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center at 530-577-2273 or Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Service Office 530-543-2600.