Friday, June 27, 2008

Dead Bear Walking

Katarina and I just returned from 5 days of camping at Emerald Bay SP. Despite smoke from hundreds of fires around northern California, we had a great time. By Tuesday we couldn't even see the near side of Tahoe, never mind the far shore. But we had a good time taking short hikes, reading, or just enjoying the view from the hammock. We went to nearby Eagle Falls several times, and had a couple trips over to South Lake Tahoe for ice (gotta keep the beer cold) and other necessities.

The only downer of the trip (besides the omnipresent smoke) were bears. While it was fun to see a bear close up and not in a zoo, this young bear and its mother are rapidly becoming 'problem bears' at the campground. They always give reminders and warnings about bears at campgrounds in California, but these bears had already been around for a bit, so the warnings and reminder about the $1,000 fine for leaving food out were more emphatic than usual. Alas, as you can see in the picture, not everyone heeded those warnings carefully. These folks left their cooking gear and trash out, and the bear found it in short order after they left. I snapped the picture and then we scared the bear off by shouting and clapping; the guy a couple campsites over used an airhorn to keep the bear running up the hill. The bear's mother was around that night, and the night after that as well. That's our bear box with the scratches on it, left Wednesday night according to our neighbors. It doesn't bode well for the bears, though. If they can't be scared off, the rangers will try rubber bullets, and if that doesn't work, they'll be destroyed. I hope the folks who left the garbage got the $1,000 fine, but it may be too late for these bears.


pjd said...

One of the things I've been learning a lot about now that Ethan is in Boy Scouts is proper camping technique. Food storage is near the top of the list. Every scout in the troop must have a bear canister for backpacking. The older scouts talk about "little bears" (chipmunks, raccoons) and how it's still important to do the right things in areas where there are no actual bears. "A fed bear is a dead bear," is one phrase I heard recently.

That one in your campsite looks pretty big. We had one a few years back when we stayed in Tahoe, and they brought out a big bear trap to catch it. It was inside a dumpster at a timeshare resort. Apparently, someone had left the dumpster unlatched despite strict instructions to keep it latched. It's too bad.

Gene said...

Yeah, they have 'a fed bear is a dead bear' signs on the dumpsters, full info posted at the bathrooms, on the bear boxes, and there's the emphatic reminder when you check in. So there's lots of warnings about it, and not much excuse for leaving stuff out.

We saw a much bigger bear crossing the trail up beyond Sugarpine Point campground last fall. That was great to see, as it was where it was supposed to be, in the woods, not snacking on stuff in the campground.