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Living with bears discussed at forum

Megan Michelson
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune file/ BEAR League members and officials from the California Department of Fish and Game met earlier this month to discuss how they can help keep bears out of homes and in the wilderness where they belong.
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TAHOE CITY – Imagine this. A parent smearing peanut butter on his child’s face, encouraging a bear to lick it off for a photo. Or a man leaving a trail of food into his house and onto his couch, so that two cubs would enter and pose with him on the couch for a Christmas card.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, can recount many of these almost unbelievable stories about interactions between bears and humans, stories that often end with the bear’s death. Over a month after the killings of a family of bears by depredation permit at a West Shore home, the issue of living with bears resurfaced again earlier this month at a North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council meeting.

Bryant and officials from the California Department of Fish and Game met with a room full of residents to discuss how they can help keep bears out of homes and in the wilderness where they belong, especially at this time of year, when local bears are awakening from their winter’s rest.



This is the second time in recent years that NTRAC has held a meeting with Bryant and the DFG to discuss living with bears. The last time was six years ago, just weeks after the BEAR League was formed in the aftermath of the shooting of a mother bear and her cub.

Bryant believes the meetings can help produce change. Some of those changes may include altering the way depredation permits are issued. With the help of the Placer County Board of Supervisors and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Bryant and some of the residents in attendance at the meeting hope to find a way to involve the BEAR League in the depredation permit process.



“I’d like to see no depredation permits issued without Ann and the BEAR League’s approval,” Tahoe City resident Sabina Strauss said at the meeting.

Jason Holley, associate wildlife biologist for the DFG, said the only way that would be possible is if a petition were signed and a higher official in the department gave his approval.

“The last things we want to see is a dead bear,” Holley said. “If you have issues with the whole depredation process, it’s really a legislative process. We’re mandated to follow through with the permits if significant damage has been done.”

Although Holley said he always offers people alternatives to filing for a depredation permit and educates them on how to bear-proof their home, if someone wants a permit and has proof of damage, the DFG has to issue it to them.

Of those who do file for a permit, not all of them are acted upon. Since last May, Holley said that he alone has written 10 depredation permits in Placer County – only three of those have been acted upon, he said.

If you go

What: The BEAR League will hold a slide show presentation and discussion with Dr. Lynn Rogers, who has written “The Man Who Walks With Bears.”

When: April 8 at 7 p.m.

Where: Caesars Tahoe; tickets are $5 at door.

More info: Call (530) 525-PAWS or visit the BEAR League Web site at http://www.savebears.org


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