Wildlife officials are urging people in the Carson-Douglas area to be “bear aware” because it’s fall when bears need to put on fat to get through the winter and, now, because of wildfires in the area.
Public Information Officer Ashley Sanchez said the Caldor Fire wasn’t causing an increase in sightings until this week but that, especially in Douglas County down the mountain from the south end of Lake Tahoe, they are getting reports of more bear sightings.
“We’re starting to see an increase in bear activity and bears are going to be in weird places,” she said.
She said that means drivers must be aware of bears that may be on the roads and highways because of the fire.
“They don’t know they’re not supposed to walk out into a roadway,” she said.
Others contacted for this story including NHP Trooper Charles Casten and Carson Sheriff Ken Furlong said they have no reports at this point of unusual bear activity.
Casten said NHP hasn’t had a bear call in the Tahoe area this past week and Furlong said sightings in the capital seem to be “within norms for the season.”
In the fall, bears enter into what is called hyperphagia — a state in which they are constantly hungry because they need to build fat to hibernate through the winter.
“Fruit trees are a big one,” Sanchez said.
But bears quickly learn to raid trash cans if garbage is available.
Sanchez said food isn’t as much of an issue for bears, deer and other wildlife impacted by the fire as water.
“They’ll be able to find food,” she said adding that people should absolutely never feed the animals. “They need water.”
She said people who want to help wildlife displaced by the Caldor Fire can put out water. But she cautioned residents to put the water well away from their houses so that the animals — especially bears — don’t start to associate the water with the home itself.