‘Promising’ meeting on Tahoe’s bad news bears | TheUnion.com

‘Promising’ meeting on Tahoe’s bad news bears

Tahoe Basin residents plagued by escalating encounters with bears have begun a dialogue with state wildlife officials in the California capital.

Participants at a recent meeting in Sacramento described it as a productive opportunity for dialogue about bears, their feeding on human-produced garbage and solutions to the problem of the animals breaking into houses.

“The meeting was … one of the most promising I’ve ever been to,” BEAR League Executive Director Ann Bryant said. “And I’m not a meeting person.”

With 69 bears killed on Tahoe’s highways so far this year and reported human encounters with bears higher than any time in the past 20 years, everyone who attended the gathering last week agreed that bears have become a nuisance around residential areas this year.

Large amounts of available garbage deepen the problem, officials said. Bears are eating more and, consequently, giving birth to more cubs.

The solution starts with Tahoe residents tightening up their garbage control, officials added.

“We’ve got to just reduce the sources of food for these animals in these populated areas,” said Julie Oltmann of the Department of Fish and Game.

Officials discussed enforcing county ordinances that require bear-proof garbage bins, reinforcing Dumpster lids, employing different aversion techniques to discourage garbage feeding and neighborhood watch programs.

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