Bears are wild animals, and no matter how cute and cuddly they look, they are wild and not meant to be near humans. We see our share of bears in South Lake Tahoe, from those wandering city streets looking for a garbage can snack to those living in our forests. Every year, the Kokanee salmon and trout head upstream at Taylor Creek to spawn. Due to their large numbers, they attract not only people who love to watch but also bears looking for a pre-hibernation meal.
What has always been a fall tradition for many has turned out to be a social media selfie nightmare for forest officials.
The U.S. Forest Service had to issue a warning this week to the throngs of people wanting to have “bear selfies.” Stop taking selfies or we’re going to have to close the area, they said.
While thousands of people have calmly taken photos from the pathways and bridges for decades, the new generation of photo-happy people are leaving the paths and causing a safety problem, not only to themselves but to the bears. They have been seen running after bears and disturbing their eating at the creek, just for a snapshot to share with their friends on Instagram and Facebook.
“Bears are unpredictable, wild animals and may attack if threatened,” said Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson. “We can’t have visitors creating dangerous situations for themselves and others. People are risking serious injury or death if they get too close to a bear.”
Not only it is unsafe for people, the situation is unsafe for the bear. Approaching bears too closely puts them at risk, since bears may be captured and killed if they attack. They also may become too used to human interaction which signs the bear’s death warrant.
Local residents in Lake Tahoe know to keep our trash away from bears as well as to not encourage them to hang around our neighborhoods.
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