Bears, Tahoe fires linked, officials say |

Bears, Tahoe fires linked, officials say

Authorities say Tahoe bear complaints, Angora fire, linked

RENO, Nev. (AP) ” Authorities in and around Lake Tahoe believe a spike in complaints of nuisance bears are directly related to the Angora fire two months ago that burned 254 homes and 3,100 acres of wildlife habitat.

The El Dorado County sheriff’s office said most calls have involved bears breaking into unoccupied homes, but increasingly the bruins are becoming bolder, wandering into residences while human occupants are home in search of food.

In the upper Kingsbury Grade neighborhood in Douglas County, Shinil Quilty heard a noise from her kitchen early Monday.

At first she thought her husband, Brian, was getting a midnight snack.

But when she went to investigate, she discovered a large black bear at her refrigerator, holding a carton of orange juice.

“I couldn’t believe how big he was,” Quilty told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. “He stood there and looked at me like he didn’t care.”

The bear eventually lumbered out of the home after the couple’s dogs make a ruckus.

“Bear habitat and forage areas have been decimated as a result of the fire, forcing some bears into the more developed residential areas for food,” said El Dorado Sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell.

“With summer nearly over, we expect these bears to become even bolder in their natural quest to ingest enough food for winter hibernation.”

Two weeks ago a Washoe County deputy shot a bear after it lunged at him from inside an Incline Village home. The wounded, 660-pound bear was tracked to a nearby residence and killed by wildlife officials.

El Dorado County deputies on the California side of the liake want to avoid a similar situation, and are alerting homeowners and renters to take precautions.

Officials are urging people to secure homes and vehicles when away and during the night and not to leave trash outside. Playing a radio while away also can discourage bears from approaching, officials said.

“The bears tend to shy away from the human voice,” Lovell said. “As always, exposed trash tends to be one of the largest draws for all foraging animals, and any measures to mitigate the amount of available food is a step in the right direction.”

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