VIDEO: South Lake Tahoe family has close encounter with young black bear
There is still snow on the ground in South Lake Tahoe and more in the forecast, but some of the region’s furriest residents are already awake from their winter slumber.
It’s a reality that South Lake Tahoe resident Joe Ficeto learned Tuesday when a small black bear — likely a young male bear, according to one wildlife expert — slowly made its way onto Ficeto’s back deck.
With a glass door separating Ficeto and his two young children from the bear, he captured the encounter on video, which he shared on Facebook Wednesday. The experience, Ficeto told the Tribune, was a little nerve-wracking and a little exciting.
Stayed home with the kids yesterday, who were sick and we got a surprise visit
Posted by Joe Ficeto on Wednesday, March 22, 2017
“It was a pretty crazy situation,” said Ficeto, who moved to South Lake Tahoe from New York back in July.
While some commenters on social media were quick to judge him, Ficeto said he did nothing to attract the bear. There was no food on the back deck and the family uses bear-proof trash containers. He said he even started banging on pots and pans to try and scare the animal off, but that didn’t work.
According to Nevada Department of Wildlife Public Affairs Officer Chris Healy, the bear was likely a young male.
“Young, male bears, anywhere from 2 to 4 years of age — they’re the ones that emerge first. In an open winter without much snow, those bears will emerge around the third week of February and start looking for things to eat …” Healy told the Tribune.
The family watched as the bear walked along a fence before entering the yard and sniffing around. Eventually it made its way to the deck, which is when Ficeto started filming.
Ficeto said he tried to remain calm and not scare his young daughter and son. But he admits he got a little nervous when the bear raised its paw like it was going to scratch the glass.
“Definitely a little nervous,” he said.
Around that point in the video, Ficeto’s dog, named Dash, ran up to the door and started barking, which appeared to startle the bear at first. However, Ficeto said the animal lingered for around 45 minutes before wandering off.
While he says it’s common to see bears in his neighborhood, which is located toward the western edge of town in an area referred to as The Y, Ficeto said this was definitely the closest encounter he has had.
Speaking in general, Healy said that a bear wandering in a residential neighborhood is a bad sign.
“This is the behavior that leads to trouble,” Healy said of the bear.