Fatal Shooting of Juvenile Bear in South Lake Tahoe Sparks Outrage

A South Lake Tahoe homeowner’s fatal shooting of a juvenile bear on Memorial Day has sparked a heated debate between local wildlife advocates and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The incident occurred on Pioneer Trail, where the homeowner claims he acted in self-defense.

Wildlife officers were alerted around 2:30 p.m. that a bear had been shot by a homeowner. The bear, a juvenile weighing between 75 to 85 pounds, allegedly entered the house through a closed door from the backyard. The homeowner stated that upon discovering the bear in his home, he tried to scare it away by shouting, waving his arms, clapping, and making noise.

When the bear began huffing and advancing towards the man’s dog, the homeowner retrieved a rifle and shot the bear twice. The bear ran outside, attempted to climb a tree, but fell due to its injuries. The homeowner then shot the bear a third time to end its suffering before calling 911.

Wildlife officers conducted a full investigation and concluded that the homeowner acted in self-defense to protect himself and his dog. The investigation was subsequently closed.

Neighbors and the Bear League, a Tahoe-based nonprofit advocating for local bears, dispute the CDFW’s account. The group reported that multiple neighbors claimed the door to the backyard was left open and the bear did not fully enter the house before being shot. Witnesses stated that all shots were fired while the bear was outside, trying to flee.

This incident is not isolated, as bear-human encounters in Tahoe have been a growing concern. Three years ago, a tourist shot a bear inside a South Lake Tahoe vacation rental, also claiming self-defense. In Tahoe, bears are known to open unlocked doors and windows, leading homeowners to secure their properties with electric wires and other deterrents.

The Bear League’s Facebook post about the shooting received hundreds of outraged comments from local residents calling for the homeowner to be charged.

The CDFW has defended their investigation, stating that they are sworn to uphold the law in California and their professional, full-scale investigation determined no crime was committed.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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