The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is conducting “Trap-Tag-Haze” operations on the South Lake and West Shore areas of Lake Tahoe. These communities have seen extensive property damage by black bears this summer, including vehicle and home break-ins. The goal is to trap as many bears as possible, identify them individually by affixing a numbered ear tag and collect their DNA from hair, blood and saliva samples. Once that work is quickly done, the bears are taken to wild habitat nearby and hazed upon release.
The bears are not harmed, but given an unpleasant experience – yelling, noisemakers, firing bean bags and paint balls at them in some cases – as they run from the trap to freedom. The idea is to give them a negative association with humans and neighborhoods that, hopefully, will keep them away and prevent them from becoming problem bears in the future.
The visual and genetic identification lets CDFW know how successful these efforts are, and whether a particular bear returns to cause trouble or not. Bear DNA and ear tags can also help officials accurately determine which bear is (or is not) responsible for a home or vehicle break-in. Since last week, seven bears have been trapped, tagged and released; four in South Lake and three in West Shore.
Watch this video about the Trap-Tag-Haze program in Tahoe: