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Tahoe campers urged to watch out for bears

September 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's lots of home video on YouTube of bears coming to neighborhoods and campsites in the Tahoe Basin and helping themselves to people food.Normally, the California Department of Fish and Game gets one or two reports of bears becoming aggressive, but this year the number of incidents has jumped.

"We've had nine or 10 of the same sort of calls where a bear has made harmful contact with a person," said Jason Holley of California Department of Fish and Game. "Once they get people food, they don't want to go anywhere else."

Within the last month, a mother and her cub were frequenting the Fallen Leaf Campground, eventually swiping at a man and injuring his arm.

The two were captured this week and a lab compared saliva from the animals to that left on a yogurt cup at the attack site.

The DNA test came back positive, and the bear was euthanized. Her cub was still in Rancho Cordova Friday and Fish and Game were weighing their options on what to do with her.

Wildlife officials hope that makes the long Labor Day weekend a little safer for visitors.

The Lutz's are on vacation and will be boating in Tahoe. They're upset the state took such drastic action and don't think the mother should have been euthanized.

"No, I don't. We're invading them and I just think it's a shame they did that," said Catherine Lutz. "Now, there's a baby. Now what are you going to do?"

Some animal rights groups don't like that bears have to be euthanized. They say people are really responsible for leaving out food or even feeding the bears.

"You have to keep that locked up," said Jennifer Fearing of The Humane Society. "You have to keep that in a way that's bear-proof because otherwise, your desire to be in nature and be among these kinds of animals could lead to this tragic situation."

"We have to err on the side of public safety," said Holley.

The state estimates there could be as many as 500 bears in the Tahoe basin. More of them are having larger litters, which is a sign they're getting plenty to eat.


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