Bears a growing problem for Tahoe campers

September 3, 2010 7:41:53 PM PDT
People in the Tahoe area are getting aggressive in controlling a rash of bear break-ins this summer. In the latest case there was DNA testing to track down the offender.

There are plenty of stories of bears coming to neighborhoods and campsites in the Tahoe Basin and helping themselves to people food.

Normally, California Fish and Game gets one or two reports of bears becoming aggressive, but this year the number of incidents has jumped.

"We've had nine or ten of the same sort of calls where a bear has made harmful contact with a person," Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game spokesperson Jason Holley said. "Once they get people food, they don't want to go anywhere else."

Within the last month, a mother and her cub were frequenting the Fallen Leaf Campground, eventually swiping at a man and injuring his arm. The two were captured this week, and a lab compared saliva from the animals to that left on a yogurt cup at the attack site.

The DNA test came back positive, and the bear was euthanized. Her cub is still alive and Fish and Game is weighing its options on what to do with her.

Wildlife officials hope that makes the long Labor Day weekend a little safer for visitors.

The Lutz's will be boating in Tahoe. They are upset the state took such drastic action and do not think the mother should have been euthanized.

"We're invading them and I just think it's a shame they did that," Catherine Lutz said.

Some animal rights groups do not like that bears have to be euthanized. They say people are the really responsible, for leaving out food or even feeding the bears.

"You have to keep that locked up, you have to keep that in a way that's bear-proof because otherwise, your desire to be in nature and be among these kinds of animals could lead to this tragic situation," Humane Society spokesperson Jennifer Fearing said.

But Holley says his department has to err on the side of public safety.

The state estimates there could be as many as 500 bears in the Tahoe Basin; more of them are having larger litters, which is a sign they are getting plenty to eat.


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