“It’s humans moving into bear habitat that’s changing their behavior and hibernation cycles, unfortunately. They’re carelessly going about their daily lives without any regard for the fact that they’ve come to bear country, and what their actions are doing is damaging these animals that live here and that’s a shame.” –Executive Director of the Bear League in Tahoe Ann Bryant
A video has gone viral of a Lake Tahoe bear waking up from hibernation in the middle of winter and according to the Executive Director of the Bear League in Tahoe, Ann Bryant, it’s not weather related. ABC 7 reports its actually normal for resident black bears to come out on a warm day mid-winter to stretch and roll around. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says about 15% of Tahoe bears show some activity during the winter months, while most hibernate for 2-3 months. But there’s one thing that can 100% mess with bear hibernation patterns…human food waste. .
“What we don’t want is when they come out and smell a garbage can or a bird feeder down the street and they start eating because they don’t go back into the den.” –Ann Bryant
With more people moving to Tahoe permanently during the pandemic, bears got more access to human food because the new residents were not as familiar with how to secure their food from bears.
“It’s not hide your food, it’s secure it so they can’t get at it. They know there’s food here because there’s people here. If we have our houses secured, lock our doors, lock our windows, don’t have food in the car, get a bear-proof garbage enclosure, then they can’t get the food. They’ll give up and go back to sleep and that’s the goal. A lot of people aren’t doing that.”
If residents don’t start taking proper measures this issue only stands to get worse. Check out the news report below and bottom line do better new residents to Tahoe…bears walking into town midwinter for a bite to eat is a bad look.