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Bear Preservation League gets in gear

The killing of a mother bear and her cub last summer may lead to more than just bear-policy changes in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Members of the Bear Preservation League – a group of former strangers brought together after the August 1998 killing of the Homewood bears – hope changes being made in the Lake Tahoe Basin may serve as a model for bear policy throughout California.

“If we can make this work and get good volunteers – the whole state is watching us, and our regional Department of Fish and Game wants to use us as a model for the state,” said Ann Bryant, a Homewood resident and wildlife rehabilitator for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.



After a meeting in November, the California Department of Fish and Game, the agency responsible for the killing, and the Bear Preservation League agreed to develop a bear community response team.

When Fish and Game receives complaints about bears – as it did for the August killing in Homewood – officials will first contact the Bear Preservation League, which will establish team members throughout the basin. The nearest members to the complaint will respond and be able to talk with and educate the complaining residents or tourists about bears, and about keeping trash and food away from them.




To establish the response team, the Bear Preservation League is planning to host two training seminars later this winter. The first, to be held in South Lake Tahoe is scheduled for Feb. 20, hosted by Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. A North Shore training meeting will be held in March.

At the meetings, California Fish and Game representatives and other wildlife officials are supposed to provide information and solutions to prevent human and bear conflict.

“We’re hoping to be operating by the time the bears wake up,” Bryant said.

The current agreement is only with California, but Bryant said she wants Nevada volunteers because she is confident a similar plan can be worked out. Even though Nevada generally does not kill bears, the response teams can help wildlife officials.

“We want to train as many people as we can on the Nevada side. Our plans are to include the Nevada (officials) on this. We’ve had some contact with them and they are interested,” she said. “I’m sure they’ll want to work with us.”

Bryant and other Lake Tahoe residents formed the Bear Preservation league and fund after the Homewood bear, named “Natalie,” and her cub were killed. Another cub was orphaned. A tourist reportedly had complained to the California Department of Fish and Game about it.

However, the league believes other large male bears in the area caused the damage, and Natalie was killed unnecessarily.

“We look forward to some good results. This has been a long time coming,” Bryant said. “We just know the best solution isn’t killing a mother and her cub. The good that has come out of this has made her life worthwhile, and her death. That’s what we started out to do, to turn something bad into something good.”

Bear Preservation League training seminars

What: South Shore seminar

When: Feb. 20

Where: South Lake Tahoe, exact location still to be decided

What: North Shore seminar

When: March 13

Where: Granlibakken Resort, 625 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City

A small reservation fee is required.

To volunteer: Call Ann Bryant at (530) 525-PAWS or Rita McEwing at (775) 586-8362

Donations:

Bear Preservation Fund

Box 366

Truckee, Calif. 96160

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