As the winter season approaches the Tahoe Basin, so does a critical phase for black bears – hyperphagia, or the fall feeding frenzy. During this period, bears eat voraciously, consuming thousands of calories daily to build fat reserves for the winter. Adult bears can gain multiple pounds each day as they forage day and night.
To support these bears in their natural behavior and prevent them from seeking easy meals in residential areas, the Tahoe Interagency Bear Team urges residents to adhere to BearWise principles. This includes using bear-resistant garbage carts/boxes, removing bird feeders, storing pet food indoors, and regularly cleaning grills.
After hyperphagia, as food becomes scarce, bears begin searching for dens to hibernate. While wild bears typically den beneath rock piles or hollowed trees, some bears in the Tahoe Basin seek urban dens, often under homes. This can lead to significant problems for homeowners, including damage to insulation, electrical wires, and exposed pipes that may freeze.
Rebecca Carniello, the Urban Wildlife Biologist at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), recommends securing crawl spaces in the fall to prevent bears from denning there. This proactive step can help homeowners avoid costly damage.
To support bear conservation and minimize conflicts with these animals, residents can follow guidelines from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), TahoeBears.org, and BearWise.org. Additionally, individuals can report bear incidents or conflicts using the provided phone numbers and online resources.
By taking these measures, residents and visitors can coexist peacefully with bears and protect both these remarkable creatures and their properties.