The Dangerous Bear Burglars of Lake Tahoe

14 homes were ransacked by bears in the Homewood region of Tahoe last year. Many more sightings were reported. A man was hospitalized. How do we stop bears from burglarizing Tahoe homes?

The above video shows you what appears to be a breaking and entering, by a group of very smart and determined bears.

Many Lake Tahoe vacation homes go frequently unused and bears have learned how to break into them and scavenge through whatever food is remaining in the residence. In fact, neighbors that live in these areas permanently are witnessing such acts and fear for their safety and for their homes.

As was the case when a Tahoe man came down the stairs of his house to find a big bear sniffing through his kitchen. When the man tried to scare the bear off, the bear swiped at his head, causing the man to be hospitalized.

In the Homewood area of Tahoe last summer, 14 homes were ransacked before the bears went to sleep for winter hibernation. And these bears destroy much of the homes before moving on to another location. There were many more reports of bears in neighborhoods or attempted break-ins.

Many bears frequent the Tahoe wilderness areas in hopes of finding some tasty human food but with locals and visitors doing a better job at locking up trash in bear-proof dumpsters, the bears have moved to bigger trouble with a bigger payday: homes.

Mother bears have seemed to teach their cubs how to break into these homes, which could spell trouble for some time to come.

“The ease (with which) they can get in … shows that it’s a learned pattern, and it’s taught generationally,” Jack Robb, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told the Sacramento Bee. “They’ve got it figured out.”

Either way, bears in the area are certainly become less afraid of their human neighbors:

To add another wrinkle in this already troubling situation is the well-funded and organized bear advocates of Tahoe are stopping all actions from being made against the burglar bears. Homeowners fear that if they allow wildlife officials to kill or capture a bear on their property, they will be harassed by bear advocates.

The bears are brash in their actions. They aren’t that scared of dogs or rubber bullets and California officials are very reluctant to kill a bear unless it attacks a person. So what to do?

It seems that attempting to change bear culture to teach them to stay away from the homes is the best way for a generational solution to the problem. For now, residents are “bear proofing” their homes and creating motion-censored alarm systems to alert them if their is a bear break in.

As you can see, they’ll try to get into even the most protected house:

Let’s hope we can find a safe and reasonable solution to this dangerous problem.

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