A Nevada wildlife biologist said eight wild bears in the area have already been killed this year. Typically by this point in the year, only one or two have been killed. The reason for the much higher number is more trash and food left out due to more tourists. This year winter conditions lasted longer and so there were more tourists in the area at the same time bears had emerged from hibernation and were looking for food. They were finding food left unsecured by tourists who were not educated in bear awareness.
Many people may have already heard the awareness slogan, “A fed bear is a dead bear.” But there are probably far more that haven’t. Also many of the tourists to the Tahoe ski and snowboarding areas are there for only a short time, and aren’t learning before arriving or during their stays, about bear behavior or ecology. They are in the area for recreation.
Eight bears is the number killed so far on the Nevada side of the Tahoe basin. Three more were killed on the California side. If there was more awareness about the danger of leaving trash and food in places where bears can get them, fewer bears would be killed.
I believe websites for the popular ski areas, like Alpine Meadows should be featuring prominently educational web pages which raise awareness about bear safety to keep people safe, and to keep bears safe too.
If every ski resort website would post some bear awareness information, perhaps the tens of thousands of visitors to the area would become more aware of the issues, and do their part. My personal belief is the visitors probably care about the bears and would want to help, but they simply don’t understand the issues as many, or most, live in urban areas where they don’t encounter bears. Some visitors also actually feed human food to wild animals not understanding how they are actually making it more likely that wild animal will wind up being killed after it is reported as a public nuisance or danger.
Image Credit: Rick C