Bears in state of confusion
June 27, 2007
While the Angora fire has displaced thousands of residents, it has also affected the wildlife that has called the forest home for far longer than its human counterparts.
The bears of Lake Tahoe are now in a state of confusion, according to Ann Bryant of the BEAR League.
“We’re asking people to be more tolerant and compassionate. The bears are very confused and disoriented because of the fire,” Bryant said. “So far, we’ve had reports of bears running from fire areas. They’ve also been seen resting on people’s lawns and having labored breathing from the smoke.”
Off Highway 89, close to the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe, an adolescent bear was spotted in a tree by one of the fire crews.
“We were watching him all night. He was licking his paws obsessively; we were afraid he had burned himself and might not make it,” said Asad Rahman, a hotshot from Klamath. “I was happy to see him get out of the tree.”
Nevada Department of Wildlife Biologist Carl Lackey said the fire doesn’t mean the displaced bears will find new homes in Nevada.
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“The fire’s too far into California for them to cross. You have to realize that bears roam a territory that is several miles,” Lackey said. “This fire’s at 3,000 acres and there’s not a whole lot of bears in that space of land.”
Lackey said that people should just leave the bears alone, keeping up the practice of not feeding them or having contact.
“Don’t encourage them to stay around,” Lackey said. “They’re working in the survival mode right now and they’ll find the terrain that’s comfortable to them.”
While people might see bears in more unusual places as they seek out this new terrain, Lackey said it should be business as usual.
“Just let them pass,” Lackey said.