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Be bear-aware: Learn how not to attract bears

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Mike St. Michel, from the U.S. Forest Service, talks with Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School students Friday about bears in the basin.
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Just in time for bear awareness week, Gerry Nafie received a visitor Friday of the big, hungry and furry kind at her home on Kingsbury. The bear took off with her fresh baked cookies and lemondrop candies, and left the mess for her to clean up.

Nafie discovered the scene at 6 a.m. on Friday. Her visitor had torn the screen door off, jimmied open the sliding glass door, and helped himself to guacamole chips, cookies and candy – all while she and her husband slept upstairs.

The 48-year resident said she’s come face to face with bears in her yard, but never has one broken into her house.



“Ann Bryant said he’ll be back tonight and that’s what I’m afraid of,” Nafie said.

Bryant is the executive director of the BEAR League, which provides assistance to homeowners on shooing bears off their properties without harming them.



The League also has a wealth of knowledge on how to keep bears from coming around in the first place. Bryant championed a law in Tahoe requiring all newly constructed homes to install a bear-proof trash container. Homes where bears have broken into trash also are required to purchase bear-proof containers.

“We are busily preparing for the upcoming bear and tourist season by providing needed equipment to our volunteer response team, fine-tuning our slide presentations, and stocking up on educational materials,” Bryant said.

Bryant is featured in a new book “Living with Bears,” by Linda Masterson, which provides real-life stories from wildlife managers, organizations, national parks and communities who’ve discovered creative, practical ways for people and bears to peacefully coexist.

To mark bear awareness week, members of the Tahoe Council for Wild Bears will be giving community presentations on reducing bear conflicts, visiting classrooms with bear education trunks, publishing new “Be Bear Aware” posters, and distributing informational brochures to businesses around the lake.

The Tahoe Council for Wild Bears works to keep bears alive and wild by reducing human to bear conflicts through community education.

Participants in the Tahoe Council include the BEAR League, Defenders of Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, California Department of Fish and Game, the Humane Society of the United States, the Spring Creek Tract Association, among others.

During Bear Awareness Week, Defenders of Wildlife will be distributing “Guidelines for Living in and Visiting Bear Habitat” brochures to businesses around Lake Tahoe.

The Forest Service is also helping to raise bear awareness by distributing bear trunks to local schools, as well as presenting an environmental education program to 5th graders at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Avoid bears

— Never feed bears

— Properly secure and store garbage until collection day

— Use bear-proof containers for food and trash while traveling in the backcountry

— Keep pet food inside

— Avoid using bird feeders except in winter

For information on how to bear-proof your property, camping tips, where to find bear-proof containers, and much more, visit http://www.tahoewildbears.org.

To request a copy of “Living with Black Bears in the Tahoe Region,” contact Pamela Flick at (916) 313-5800 ext.105 or e-mail her at pflick@defenders.org.

To schedule a community talk by the BEAR League, contact Ann Bryant at (530) 525-7297.

For more information about Forest Service bear talks, contact Jean Norman at (530) 543-2694.


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