Video of mother bear and cubs swimming at crowded Lake Tahoe beach goes viral (video)
A video featuring a mother bear and her two cubs swimming at Pope Beach — with beach-goers and kayakers watching and filming nearby — was sent into the Tahoe Daily Tribune on Aug. 2; and after posting it to Facebook, the video went viral.
On the Tribune’s Facebook page alone, the video has 1.5 million views, 31,444 shares, and over 12,000 likes. It was picked up by news channels from the region and beyond — even BBC featured the video on its website.
As many who viewed the video noted, however, despite its “aww”-factor the situation was also unsettling, as the characteristically skittish black bears seem unfazed by the crowded beach.
“This was a very unusual circumstance,” said Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Andrew Hughan, adding that black bears are typically “scared of their own shadows.”
“Black bears are not aggressive by nature, but typically when a mother has young cubs around she is very protective. But they seemed to more care about taking a swim than anything else,” said Hughan.
Hughan also said it was “lucky” that nothing happened with so many people there on the beach.
“People forget these are wild animals. If someone had gotten closer or the mother decided that people were close enough, she could have attacked any of these people in seconds.”
Lisa Herron, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said that officials were alerted to the bears’ presence on the beach and were on hand to make sure people kept a safe distance.
“Some people aren’t aware, but black bears can run really fast. They may look like they just lumber around, but they can run,” she said.
According to the North American Bear Center, lean black bears can exceed 30 mph.
“There is some concern when bears frequent areas that are inhabited by people. Normally bears should be afraid of people, and it’s not good when they aren’t afraid,” said Herron, noting that proper trash disposal is key to keeping bears out of areas inhabited by humans.
If you encounter a black bear, Hughan said it is important to give the bear as much space as possible, make lots of noise, wave your arms, and make sure you are not cornering it.
“Ninety-nine times out of a 100 they will run away,” he said.
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