Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears--Oh My!

Remember when bears were dangerous animals you tried to stay away from and who feared human disturbances enough to remove themselves from inhabited areas? Apparently that lesson is lost in Tahoe.

The front window of their sturdy mountain home had been smashed, and when Danny Hyde, a school principal, opened the front door, he discovered that a bear and two cubs had taken up residence.


The Lake Tahoe area is experiencing a rise in home invasions by bears.


Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, which promotes human-bear co-existence, estimates there are five bear break-ins around Lake Tahoe every night. Jason Holley, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, believes the number is twice that.


She tries to modify the behavior of bears and humans but says bears are easier to retrain than humans.

She urges residents to remove food from vacant houses and install double locks, double window panes, shutters, barking-dog alarms and metal containers, or bear boxes, with keys to secure garbage.


Ms. Bryant recalls one morning feeling a nudge on her elbow while stirring oatmeal. A bear wanted breakfast.

Adult black bears can weigh as much as 400 pounds, and while many have lost their fear of humans, they are capable of inflicting harm.


Once a bear becomes a nuisance, California residents can request a depredation permit to have it killed, although that creates new risks. Recently one homeowner found his bear trap sabotaged and signs posted with his name, phone number and the appellation “bear killer.”

“I feel violated. There’s a predator out there who wants something I have,” said Mr. Hyde, who admits he feels conflicted. “Nobody wants a depredation permit because of the residual community reaction.”

His wife, Catherine, said, “There’s no good solution.”

So bears break into houses, show no fear of people, and have more offspring that they're teaching to do the same. And somehow humans are supposed to co-exist with the bears?

Once you've shown a bear is a menace, your neighbors will harass you and prevent you from following the law because they love the menacing bear? Life loving people who don't want bears in their kitchen are supposed to be "retrained" by these animal lovers?

How inhumane and condescending. As though humans are worse than the wild animals and that we should have to make way for marauding wild life.

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