The real bear facts |

The real bear facts

Ann Bryant

How many times have we told those who would listen not to allow the bears to feel welcome in your yard or on your deck? (Have you ever known us to insist you just let the bears take over and move in?) How often have I talked about being the dominant species and stepping into the vacant paw prints of the long-gone grizzly bear and chasing the black bear into the wilderness? In the thousands of phone conversations we have had with most of you, have we ever failed to tell you, “Don’t let the bear feel welcome in your territory, be mean to him, yell at him, throw a rock at him?”

Haven’t you read our posters and literature, hanging everywhere, which clearly and repetitively state, “Let the bear know this is your territory and he doesn’t belong here?”

What is it going to take before some of you wake up and realize there is a problem here because you’re not paying attention? Many of us are working overtime and getting nowhere because of those few who insist on blaming the bears, the BEAR League, or the DFG while doing nothing to help solve the problem. It’s easy to sit back and find fault and point the finger at someone else. The hard part is to step up to the plate and do something to try to fix the problem. The extra hard part is to get knocked flat over and over by those who only know how to complain while we fight for what’s right. We keep going because we know someone has to try or it will only get worse.

The most discouraging part is when you give your whole soul to your community and the people and the animals who live here, but still, sleeping bears are needlessly killed. The people who ordered the killings say inaccurate things about you and make up fictitious statements instead of admitting the truth. I suppose it’s easy to understand why they did so – I believe they are hoping to gather public sympathy as the district attorney considers whether to pursue criminal charges.

What I find difficult to understand is why anyone from around here would believe such blatant nonsense when it’s so completely contrary to everything the BEAR League has said and done in all of our 61Ú2 years of existence. Why would we suddenly change our standards, make the bizarre recommendations that were alleged and then risk our reputation by vandalizing someone’s property?

No folks, I did not tell the Tondas to just leave the bears under their house. I told them we would get a backhoe to move the snow and run the bears out. My mistake was in believing them when they said they loved the bears and didn’t want them disturbed. Obviously, they don’t love bears. They hired three hunters to kill the bears. After reflecting on their motives, I believe they must have erroneously concluded I would charge them for moving the snow and the bears and so they declined my offer – nothing else makes any sense to me. (We never charge, we are volunteers, we are nonprofit; we do this because we want to help.)

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I find it deplorable and shocking that these people, after deceiving me and killing a sleeping family of bears, would resort to preying on the good people of Tahoe’s sympathy. This has been done in a manner that threatens to undermine all the good work of the BEAR League. They have insinuated that bear activists have vandalized their home. There is not one of us who have ever done such a disgraceful thing, or who ever would. To be accused of this is not something we can sit back and swallow. This is so unfair that I cannot “turn the other cheek” as I’ve done many times. It is not an option this time. I had to speak. Thank you for listening.

Everyone who lives or vacations in Tahoe owes it to themselves and their families to understand bears and how they “operate.” Like it or not, bears naturally live here with us. I didn’t bring them here. They aren’t mine. They are an integral part of this ecosystem and they belong here. They are big, always hungry, and can be a problem, to say the least. We can’t ignore them anymore and we can’t wish them away. (They aren’t going away no matter how much some people wish they would.) So, we “intelligent” humans have to get serious about how to live in bear territory in a responsible manner.

If you would like to learn more about bears, and hopefully develop a realistic understanding of them, please join us this weekend for a slide show/lecture with Lynn Rogers. We have brought Rogers to Tahoe from Minnesota to help us teach our new Response Team Members during an all-day Saturday seminar (class is full) and will be sharing him with the public tonight at Caesars Tahoe (7 p.m.) and Saturday night at the Resort at Squaw Creek (7:30 p.m.) Call the BEAR League for information (530) 525-7297 or log on to

Tickets are $5 at the door, children under 12 free. Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care is co-sponsoring the event at Caesars.

– Ann Bryant is executive director of the BEAR League, and a Homewood resident.