Bear scare keeps teens indoors for hours |

Bear scare keeps teens indoors for hours

Cory Fisher

Ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you it was the potato chips. Three Glenbrook teens found themselves face to face with a bear late Thursday night, causing them to spend several fearful hours locked inside a beach shed.

“We were in the cabana eating potato chips when I looked up and saw a dark shadow about 10 feet away,” said Nick Greenwood, 16. “All of a sudden I realized there was a bear looking right at us – I froze, then I ran and slammed the door.”

For the next few hours the trio said they could hear the bear growling and pawing its way around the small shed. To no avail, they slipped notes out under the garage-like door, flicked the lights and called out to passing cars.

“We knew our parents would eventually come looking for us,” said Tori Countner, 16. “It was past the time we were supposed to be home.”

Finally, around 1:45 a.m., Countner’s mother ventured down alone to the beach in search of the teens.

“We yelled to her that there was a bear,” said Greenwood. “Then she ran into the shed – now there were four of us.”

A short time later, a local security guard who saw the Countner’s car still idling came to the beach to investigate. A quick search with a spotlight revealed that the bear had moved on.

“When I finally got home, my mom didn’t believe my story,” said Greenwood. “I had to show her the footprints the next morning.”

Stories like this one are more and more common, said Ken Zanzi, California Department of Fish and Game assistant division chief for wildlife management, as more people move into bear-inhabited areas like Tahoe.

“People have moved into areas that bears consider their homes,” he said. “Especially houses out in the forest.”

You can’t blame bears for acting like bears – that’s why it’s important for humans not to encourage regular visits.

Don’t leave pet food outside, bear-proof garbage cans and never, ever feed a bear, Zanzi said.

“Once they become habituated, they become more curious around homes,” he said. “They can grow dependent on human handouts. Many visitors and weekenders think it’s fun to feed bears – then the year-round residents have to deal with the consequences.”

In most situations, the black bears of the Tahoe Basin try to avoid people, Zanzi said, unless they believe a cub is in danger or food is too much of a temptation.

“They’re omnivores, just like us,” he said. “They’ll eat anything from rotten meat to fruit, insects, grasses and berries – they’ll even eat the bark right off the trees.”

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