Bear breaks into homes in affluent Lake Tahoe neighborhood

Flanked by luxury yacht clubs and resorts, the South Lake Tahoe Keys neighborhood is an idyllic 740-acre marina community that has million dollar homes, private beaches and barrier-free lake access. However, residents were surprised this month when a bear awoke from hibernation in the dead of winter and started wreaking havoc on their homes.

According to It’s RenoCalifornia Department of Fish and Wildlife officials called the intruder a “severely habituated bear” who, despite “months of hazing and other mitigation efforts…has caused extensive property damage and is entered several houses by force”.

“There’s no question he damaged homes,” Keys resident Patti Sherwin told the outlet. “But we invited him in leaving empty juice boxes and trash lying around.” Fortunately, the bear – known as Jake or Yogi – isn’t seen as a threat, and locals have seen him sunbathing in their backyards.

While bear sightings like this are fairly common in Tahoe in late summer, due to climate change there may be more intrusions during the shoulder seasons.

According to the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at U.C. Davis, the average daily minimum temperature in Tahoe has increased by 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years. As the winters get warmer, it becomes harder for bears to hibernate – and extreme weather events such as fires can lure bears out of their dens for other reasons.

After the devastating Caldor Fire in 2021 forced 22,000 residents to evacuate the Lake Tahoe area, bears took over the town, rummaging through trash cans and damaging properties in search of food, the report reported. Guardian. They broke into homes, cars and gas stations, having a “golden age” as residents were forced to watch the “nightmare” unfold. “There is so much litter on the street from the bears. Oh my God, they’re making a mess,” John Tillman, owner of South Tahoe Refuse, told The Guardian.

Bear break-ins during this time were so common that local law enforcement said human trespassers were never the problem. “As law enforcement, it’s not a crime for bears to break into a home,” El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Simon Brown said. at SFGATE. “We can’t go and stop the bears.”

According to Sherwin, wildlife officials in California and Nevada are setting traps and calling a meeting on Feb. 16 to find a humane solution to bear break-ins. “We need our residents and visitors to understand how to prevent bears being attracted by breaking into homes,” former South Lake Tahoe Mayor Brooke Laine told This is Reno. “We are the source of the problem.”

SFGATE reporter Michelle Robertson contributed to this report.

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