Bears raid freezer, become neighborhood nuisance |

Bears raid freezer, become neighborhood nuisance

A fed bear is a dead bear. That’s the message that state Fish & Game wardens are trying to disseminate this year, during a season when the number of complaints about bears has skyrocketed locally.

The harsh reality that a fed bear often will keep coming back, even after the food source is removed, can be a frustrating lesson in co-existence.

Homeowner Virginia Moore can testify to that.

Since July, her property on Dandee Hill Road, off You Bet Road, has been something of a bear free-for-all with groups of bears breaking into her garage and knocking over trash cans.

“We have to live with them, and we’re trying to figure out the best way to do that.”

The first incident, right after the Fourth of July, involved a bear, possibly a cub, trying to rip a window screen off the residence.

On July 11, at least one bear and several cubs broke into the garage and into a chest freezer that was used to store vacuum-sealed fish and other items, a depredation that was caught on tape thanks to a “trail-cam” installed by the family.

The cameras caught other incursions Aug. 31 and Sept. 9, and the family said the bears come sniffing around just about every night.

“It’s kind of scary,” Moore noted. “There are five kids here.”

Even after the Moores emptied the freezer and doused the area in cleanser to eliminate any food odors, the bears keep coming back.

“We’ve tried everything,” Moore said.

The USDA trapper brought out several traps, which still sit behind the house, baited with rotting food.

One had a patched hole that a trapped bear quickly punched through; it has since been repaired and did trap another bear.

The trappers said they would have to shoot the bears, but the Moores asked them to scare them away instead.

“We didn’t want to see them hurt,” said Moore’s son Sean.

That bear was released so that dogs could chase it — an attempt at aversion therapy that apparently backfired, the Moores said.

“The bear attacked their dogs,” Sean Moore said. “They chased the bear over the ridge and shot it; they thought they killed it. They said a couple of bears probably live on the property.”

Even after that episode, the bears kept coming back, he said.

“I don’t want to hurt them, but when you can’t go out of your house … The kids need to be safe,” Virginia Moore said.

“We have to live with them, and we’re trying to figure out the best way to do that,” Sean Moore said.

Since early September, the Moores have been successful in keeping the bears out of the garage by keeping a radio on at loud volume.

“Thank God for the radio,” Virginia Moore said. “They do still come around, look around and leave.”

According to Department of Fish & Game spokeswoman Carol Singleton, electric fencing, motion-detection alarms, sprinklers and lights can help for extreme bear problems. The key is to make your home an unpleasant place for bears to visit, she said.

“These types of encounters are just going to increase,” Singleton said. “The drought is making things worse.”

Some efforts have been made to institute aversion programs using dogs, but they have not proven very effective, she said. Once bears become habituated to an area in which they have found food, there is little to be done.

“There’s no nice clean solution,” Singleton said. “That’s the problem.”

Singleton has been tapping a corps of volunteers to do outreach in the Tahoe area but has not been able to expand the program to this area. She has been working with B&C Hardware to put up some informational posters and said she would love to work with local homeowners associations. She can be contacted at (916) 322-8962.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call (530) 477-4229.

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