Hungry momma bear, cubs, working Tahoe's west shore

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - A mother bear and her two cubs are continuing to rummage and pillage homes along Lake Tahoe's west shore.

Their rampage comes after California game wardens trapped and killed the wrong bear, leaving the 200-pound sow and her two seven-month-old cubs free to roam. They're moving north up the shore, hitting vacation homes left vacant for the winter.

The trio first hit a few homes around South Lake Tahoe at the beginning of the month. Since then, BEAR League Director Anne Bryant said at least 15 homes have been visited.

She said homeowners in the area were so rankled by the trapping mishap they won't call California Fish and Game to report the new destruction caused by the mother and her cubs.

''Everyone is extremely upset and they are afraid to do anything about it because they don't want another wrong bear to be killed,'' Bryant said.

Fran Gerhardy, a resident of the neighborhood where the wrong bear was killed, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune she would advise neighbors to call the BEAR League if the sow breaks in to their homes.

''At this point right now I would never call Fish and Game,'' Gerhardy said.

Patrick Foy, public information officer for Fish and Game, said that although the target sow was not caught, the male bear that was destroyed had been breaking into homes within a mile of the same area.

''The bear that was trapped had caused quite a bit of property damage as well,'' Foy said. ''There are no absolute guarantees, but there's a pretty good chance we're going to catch the right bear.''

Bryant said the rogue sow has been more aggressive than any bear she's encountered, actually breaking single-pane windows in order to get in houses.

And they're crafty, she said.

The female breaks small windows so her cubs can enter the homes. The cubs then pass the food out to their mother who dines on the deck.

Bryant said the mother is trying to wean her cubs and the three are starting to store fat for their hibernation period, which should start in about two months.

This time of year, Bryant said bears are eating 20 hours a day.

She said the female eats manzanita berries, which is good.

''But she supplements her diet with chocolate,'' Bryant said.


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