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Activists defend feeding of bears

Allen Best
Vail, CO Colorado

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. ” It’s been a bad, bad year for bears in and around Lake Tahoe Basin. A record 75 bears have been struck and killed by vehicles, bears have snuck into homes, and in one case a police officer shot a bear that charged him.

If only bears stayed in the backcountry. To that end, some 30 local residents have been dropping fruits, berries, nuts, fish and other food in the forests around Lake Tahoe in recent weeks.

The Reno-Gazette-Journal says one woman has spent $10,000 on nuts and fruits, distributing it by foot. Pilots have also dropped food from their planes.



The local grassroots organization, Bear League, has not taken part, but defends the practice.

“It’s a whole lot more natural if bears are foraging in backwoods and finding food than picking through someone’s refrigerator,” said Ann Bryant, the group leader. “We have to get the bears out of our neighborhoods and bring them back to where they belong.”

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State wildlife organizations frown on artificial feeding. They say feeding bears could make them more closely associate humans with food and make them more likely to congregate, raising the threat of disease transmission and confrontations.

Artificial food sources could also lead to more cubs when the land can’t support the animals.

But Lynn Rogers, a biologist with the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minn., believes those assertions lack empirical support.



“I don’t know of anything the people are doing (at Lake Tahoe) that would create nuisance problems,” he said. “It has to be considered experimental, but there’s a growing body of data that suggests supplemental feeding can act as a buffer against nuisance behavior rather than an introduction to it.”

PARK CITY, Utah ” The Park Record reports that a survey of local residents found the modified A-frame, a fixture in some mountain towns from the 1960s, is the most hated of the architectural styles in the old part of town.

A Web site called About.com explains that the triangular-shaped homes became popular after an architect named Andrew Geller built one on New York’s Long Island in 1956.

Although living spaces are cramped, the buildings shed snow well, making them ideal as early second homes. And they’re not expensive to build.

Unlike the A-frames, which now seem as dated as bell-bottoms, the Victorian homes of the late 1800s still remain popular almost everywhere, including Park City and other old mining towns.


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