The following is our response to Sgt. Bill Devine’s column, “An open letter to Tahoe bear advocates.”
While clearly Sgt. Devine has been a responsible homeowner with regard to garbage, some of his neighbors are not. The bear in question entered his home through an unsecured window which was not broken. This was corroborated by a neighbor.
All Tahoe bears know to go house to house searching for open/unsecured windows. Once inside, the bear was rewarded with food and came back more than once but was foiled as all the windows were now securely locked. One of our Board members lives in Incline and contacted Sgt. Devine offering use of an electrified mat, at no cost, to repel the bear, which he refused. (These mats deliver a shock big enough to teach the bear he’s not welcome.)
At our suggestion, homeowners all over the Tahoe Basin are now electrifying their homes with great success and break-ins are on the decline overall.
Some of the people who came to guard the trap were among our 4,000 Friends on Facebook but not actual BEAR League members. They are simply people who care about bears, as we do, and came on their own. As can happen with attendees at Hot August Nights in Reno, passions can be ignited and some people can get unruly.
And, like the organizers of this event, who cannot know everyone who participates, much less control their behaviors, we don’t know everyone who posts on FB. But in large measure, the people who stayed in their cars on the public street where the trap was set were well-received by homeowners in the neighborhood, many of whom offered food, water and use of their bathrooms.
The BEAR League is an educational organization and has been successfully handling situations involving bears in the Tahoe Basin and beyond for more than 15 years. We have business licenses in both California and Nevada. Three of our nine board members are from Nevada. In addition, we have more 200 members from Northern Nevada, 25 of whom are trained volunteers.
Our mission is to help people learn to coexist with wildlife indigenous to our area through personal and community outreach, not intimidation. We have a strong, positive presence on both sides of the lake and are often asked to consult with organizations across the country and the world. We are respectful, and encourage members and non-members alike, to be respectful no matter what the situation or personal feelings.
As with any organization, people will agree or disagree with us but we make no distinction when offering our help. We have long advocated for a mandatory trash enclosure ordinance in Incline. We hope Sgt. Devine will join with other members of the IVGID board who have come out in favor of this ordinance and lend his support so this needed measure will pass.
We strongly believe this is a necessary step which will greatly decrease current problems in Incline and keep homes and bears safe.
This guest column was submitted to the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza on behalf of the Bear League’s Board of Directors.