Lake Tahoe's natural beauty is loved by all, including California bears. These furry creatures call it home and love a picnic in the outdoors as much as we do. They're happy to forge for fish and berries and keep to themselves, but if they smell your bacon cooking on the barbecue, they might want a taste. Use these helpful tips to keep the bears away while hiking on trails around Lake Tahoe.
Bear-Proofing & Locking It Up
Bears are opportunistic eaters with an acute sense of smell making your BBQ meal incredibly appetizing to them, especially when they can smell it from miles away. In summertime, bears focus on expanding their fat layer in preparation for winter. They typically hunt for berries, roots, and fish in the early mornings and late evenings and if they can't find what they're looking for, they might wander into campsites to grab takeout from your trashcan.
To avoid trash strewn everywhere, throw away all food and food wrappers in bear-proof containers which are easily accessible around Tahoe. If no bear-proof containers are nearby, store food in air-tight containers in the trunk of your car. Keep in mind, bears will break into your car to get to food, even to the scrunched-up food wrappers underneath your seat, so clean out every bit of your car (even your chapstick!), lock your doors, and roll up your windows. Do not keep any coolers, even empty ones, on your deck.
Discourage bears from your campsite by cleaning your BBQ after every use and avoid cleaning fish in camp. Keep your dogs on a leash during the day and inside at night. Store pet food in air-tight containers and avoid wearing anything scented, including the strawberry scented shampoo in your travel bag. Best to keep that one at home. Be vigilant of bear activity near you when hiking or camping – bear tracks, paw prints near cars, and bite marks on trees are all clear signs there's a bear nearby.
Sing Like No One's Watching
Surprises are fun, but a bear doesn't want to be surprised by you anymore than you want to be surprised by it. When hiking, make noise by clapping, whistling or singing to scare away bears that might be close by. Your bad singing voice is a great deterrent even if your partner hates it.If you do see a bear, and it does not see you, back away slowly and don't run even if you want to. Never turn your back to the bear and don't make eye contact. Speak in a loud, calm voice giving the bear time to realize you're there and time for it to move on. If a bear does approach you, make yourself look big by lifting and waving your arms and yelling at the bear.
Bear attacks are rare and typically only happen if bears get surprised, are protecting their cubs, or if in their search for food, they are confronted without a way out, so always give them an escape route. Use these tips to protect yourself and to also help bears feel safe in their natural habitat, especially as they've been calling Lake Tahoe home for years.