Fish and Game look to euthanize mother bear and two cubs
California Department of Fish and Game is looking to euthanize a mother bear and her two cubs for repeatedly breaking into summer homes this fall in the Spring Creek Tract area. But sabotage of the trap has hindered the agency’s efforts, said game warden Darrell Stevenson.
“Somebody put cat litter with ammonia at the bear trap and that’s exactly what the BEAR League tells people to do to keep bears out of their garbage,” Stevenson said. “Since the trap was messed with, we’ve had about 10 break-ins at Spring Creek.”
Two depredation permits have been issued for the neighborhood, which sits on Forest Service land just north of Camp Richardson. Another permit has been issued in the Cascade area, less than a mile away. Traps were set in both areas in October and neither have produced results.
Bears have been crashing through windows and pulling cabinets from the wall since Labor Day weekend, after their usual food source – inexperienced campers handing out scraps and carelessly leaving crumbs – left town.
The looting has ceased with the cooler temperatures but Stevenson said the problem is far from being solved.
“I think the bears have gone into hibernation but when they wake up in the spring they’ll be back at the cabins,” he said. “And there’s nothing you can do for them because they’ve become habituated.”
Depredation permits are issued only when there has been damage to property and when the resident requests it.
Stevenson’s records show that seven permits were given in El Dorado County at Lake Tahoe in the last year, and four bears were killed: two on the West Shore and two on Echo Summit along U.S. Highway 50.
He’s working with the district attorney to find out what can be done about the interference with the trapping.
“There’s a section with the Fish and Game code, and it’s an infraction to begin with, then it turns into a misdemeanor,” Stevenson said. “If we knew who sabotaged it, the owners could file a civil suit against them for the damage that was caused after the trap was messed with.”
Ann Bryant, founder and executive director of the BEAR League, said her organization isn’t responsible for tampering with the traps. Still, she doesn’t agree with the government’s actions, saying their trapping method often gives the death sentence to the wrong bear.
“He is baiting with food and the smell brings out bears from miles around,” Bryant said. “I know that there are 12 bears living in that area, including the mother and her cubs, and none of the rest have caused any trouble. They need to catch the bear that is breaking into the cabins.”
Any bear that enters the trap is likely to be a problem because it is searching for food around cabins and homes, said Stevenson.
Bryant disagrees, saying that it is the bear’s omnivorous instinct to seek out smells for food.
“This is nothing short of what a poacher would do, only (the government has) a license,” Bryant said. “They could keep killing until they’re all gone in that area.”
Bryant said some responsibility to keep bears out of the cabins rests on the homeowners.
She advises homeowners to install double-paned windows to better insulate the smells coming from inside, empty out food cabinets when they leave for the winter season, and put bear boards – pieces of plywood with nails sticking out – in front of the doors and windows.
For information on how to keep bears wild contact the BEAR League at (530) 525-PAWS.
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