A momma bear and her three cubs were seen taking a dip at a crowded South Lake Tahoe beach as onlookers got a beautiful sighting of the majestic animals. A video of the encounter (above) was posted to social media by Jen Watkins, showing some people getting a little too close for comfort. According to Watkins, the momma bear made off with someone’s cooler.
The video shows how Tahoe’s growing bear population is getting more comfortable around humans in recent years. It also teaches a valuable lesson on how to treat bears when you see them in the wild.
“They can be very dangerous,” said Lt. Nelson Resendes with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. “Don’t feed them, don’t entice them, don’t provoke them and, obviously in a setting like this… don’t approach them… respect their space.”
Here are a few tips to avoid dangerous bear run-ins in Tahoe:
- Never feed wildlife.
- Always store food (including pet food), drinks, toiletries, coolers, cleaned grills, cleaned dishes, cleaning products, and all other scented items in the bear-resistant containers (storage lockers/bear boxes) provided at campsites.
- Clean the barbecue grill after each use and store properly.
- Always place garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters in campgrounds or in bear-resistant containers at campsites (storage lockers/bear boxes), and close and lock after each use.
- Never leave food or scented items unattended in campsites, tents, or vehicles. Bears can open vehicle doors and they may cause damage trying to gain entrance if there are scented items inside.
- Never leave garbage at campsites.
- Hike in groups and keep an eye on small children.
- Keep dogs on leash. Off-leash dogs can provoke bears to respond defensively.
- Watch for signs of bears, such as bear scat along trails or claw marks on trees. Stay alert. Make noise while on trails so that bears know you are there and can avoid you.
- Never approach bears or cubs. Always, keep a safe social distance and never get between a sow and her cubs.
If you do come across a bear, here’s what you should do:
- Never get between a mom and her cubs.
- Slowly walk away and make a loud noise.
- Though attacks are very rare, if you are attacked, fight back aggressively!