How to avoid a bear break in Lake Tahoe
It’s exciting to be buying a Tahoe second home in our area, but you’re going to have questions and concerns on our local wildlife, and that includes our bears.
North Lake Tahoe and the greater Truckee area is bear country. There is no way to skirt around the topic, we live in the mountains and we have wildlife in the area including black bears. A common question I’m often asked is how to avoid a bear break in Lake Tahoe.
There are things you can do to prevent and reduce your chances of having a bear break in into your Lake Tahoe – Truckee home, or vehicles.
How to avoid a Tahoe Home Bear Break in? Here are some suggestions from the Bear League website:
- Do Not feed the bears. Once they know there will be food waiting for them, they will return. This leads to becoming a nuisance. Bears are not relocated. They are trapped and killed. If the bear trapped is a mother, then not only will the mother be put to death, but her cubs will also die without her.
- Do Not leave trash, or garbage out. Do not leave it outside overnight unless it is in a “bear-proof” steel container.
- Do Not leave trash in your garage. Your garage is not a “bear-proof” steel container.
- On trash day, if you do not have a “bear-proof” steel container, do put your trash out on pick-up day at the beginning of the day, not the night before.
- Add ammonia, or Pine Sol inside each and every bag to help deter a bear break-in on your trash as it is outside waiting to be picked up on trash day.
- Do not leave any trash out on your deck(s), or under your home in a crawl space, even for a short period of time. Same goes for small storage sheds, or exterior storage areas that might be attached to your home that only have access from the outside.
- Do not leave pet food out on the decks. Think twice about bird feeders and their food. Pet and bird food can attract bears.
- Do not leave windows open with the scent of freshly baked goods or other recently cooked foods on the counters. Remember, if a bear can smell it, they will want to get to it.
- Do not leave food/pet food, or ice chests on decks or in vehicles unattended.
- Home owners often forget, or over-look their cars. Don’t forget to remove food trash wrappers and anything that smells like food from your vehicles. That can include air fresheners – think sweet food/fruit smells. Opt for pine/antiseptic scented smells.
- Bears can also smell lotion, shampoo (think fruit and vanilla smells – if you like them, so will the bears), food, gum, toothpaste and anything else that smells like food. If you think they are safe located in your trunk, glove compartment, or other storage areas in your car, think again. Bears are smart and their sense of smell is extraordinary. So these items and your car are at risk of bear intrusion, so remember to get those items out.
- Do clean all trash containers with ammonia, bleach, or Pine Sol – smell elimination products.
- Do clean the BBQ after each use. Remember to pick-up food that may have fallen on the ground and around the deck eating area.
- Do remember that it is illegal to feed bears. The fine is $1,000, or 6 months in jail. You’ll also have to live with knowing that you were responsible for the death of the bear if they have to trap it. Trapping is not relocation, it is a destroy the animal death sentence.
Ways to deter a bear from checking out your Tahoe second home while you are not here:
- Remove all food items from your home when you are not in residence. Don’t leave opened cans, packages, or other food-related items in your home.
- Turn on radios, or use barking dog devices. You may need to use several radios or motion detection barking dog devices at vulnerable windows and door entrances. Loud sounds do scare off bears, so if they think a dog, or person is inside because of the noise they may just move along to the next empty home.
- Use your window coverings. Make sure bears cannot see inside. If you don’t have window blinds, or drapes, put up a bedsheet as a temporary way to prevent a bear from looking inside.
- Use your window/door shutters. If you have external shutters for your home windows, or doors, use them when you are not in residence. If you don’t have them, consider installing window/door shutters as an additional line of defense.
- Use Pine Sol. Owners have been known to leave small bowls of Pine Sol in open glass bowls by each window and door. In addition, they will pour the solution across door thresholds, and on window sills.
- Use motion detector lighting and video security. The sudden light coming on can often cause the bear to move along. If you combine that with an outside video security system that has audio communication (siren, or shouting at them), you’ll be able to see if the intruder is a bear, and you can use sound to deter them from trying to come into your Tahoe Second home.
- Use electronic bear mats at door entrances.
- Use electronic fencing on doors and windows.
I am often asked: what do I do if I run into a bear? If you have a one-on-one encounter here are some suggestions from the Bear League website:
- Do not try to feed a bear. It is illegal, and dangerous. This is when you can cause the bear to accidently hurt you, so do not feed them.
- Do not run from a face-to-face encounter with a bear. Stand your ground. Slowly, back-off and away from the animal. Give the bear room to pass, or walk away from you.
- Be loud. Make a lot of noise if you confront a bear. At the local hardware stores they have “bear horns” that are canned noise makers. Buy one to place next to your emergency flashlights that you have by each door entrance.
- If you know what the sound of the start of a race sounds like, you also know what the sound of a bear horn will sound like. Bear horns are small containers, and will easily fit into a pocket or purse. Many come with a clip that will allow you to attach it onto a belt loop making it easy to take on a hike.
Things to remember about our black bears: Our black bears are not all black. Black bears may appear in color as light as a golden blonde, brown/dark brown, or black, but they are all the American Black Bear in our area. They can be big, several hundred pounds, or small like a large dog if they are very young.
The American Black Bear is only found in North America. They can run up to 30 mph (you cannot out run them). They can climb, swim, and are very agile I’ve seen them run along the top of a picket fence.
They have good sight, and a superior sense of smell. They are creatures of habit and once they figure out your home has food for them they will return.
Our black bears are not human aggressive, and they do not want to have an encounter with you. They do not see you as a snack, or as the main meal, but they do want your food and trash.
Seeing bears on a regular basis is not a common thing in the area, unless you have a bear problem.
Typically we see evidence that bears have been in our neighborhood – a broken in home, trash spread out all over the neighborhood, or bear poop.
They do come out at night, and sleep during the day, but you can see them during the day time.
Bears may, or may not hibernate, it just depending on how severe and cold our winter season is that year. They can learn, and they do adjust to new environmental conditions, so if they can eat and maintain their routine all year long, they will.
Always practice bear safety and properly deal with your food and trash, at all times, regardless of the season.
We live in their habit, so it is up to you to make your property as unattractive as possible and to take the steps to bear proof your property when it comes to food and trash.
As a Tahoe second home Buyer, or new home owner in the area you are going to have a number of questions, and I’m here to get you more information and answers. Let me know how I can help you too!
Thinking about making Lake Tahoe, California your second home? Check out the homes that are for sale here:
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- Tahoe City Homes for Sale
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All information is deemed reliable, but is subject to change, and/or correction without notice.
How to avoid a Tahoe Home Bear Break in